back to article WhatsApp agrees not to share user info with the Zuckerborg… for now

WhatsApp has agreed not to share users' data with parent biz Facebook after failing to demonstrate a legal basis for the ad-fuelling data slurp in the EU. The move comes after a years-long battle between the biz and European data protection agencies, which argued that changes to WhatsApp's small print hadn't been properly …

  1. lleres

    Sure

    Sure it won't hasn't already.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ugh.

    It added that it "cares deeply" about users' privacy and how to circumvent it.

    It cares so much that it takes a FOSS basis and adds slurping. Yes, they take it that seriously.

  3. JohnFen Silver badge

    They should anyway

    "any users that didn't like the terms would have to stop using WhatsApp."

    I think that everyone should stop using WhatsApp (along with anything else owned by Facebook) anyway. Facebook can't be trusted, and therefore all companies that Facebook owns can't be trusted.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They should anyway

      I quite like WhatsApp. No advertising. Tend to use it with family members for mundane stuff like shopping lists and organizational drivel. I don't need to trust WhatsApp, and I've never read their T&C's. It's not as if I'm using it to overthrow the state (I use carrier pigeons for that), YMMV

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: They should anyway

        That's your choice to make, of course. I didn't say that WhatsApp was without benefit, I was merely pointing out that using it is just furthering the reach and power of Facebook.

      2. Cavehomme_ Bronze badge

        Re: They should anyway

        “I quite like WhatsApp. No advertising”

        Well that’s about to change, Facebook will have your phone number. Just imagine that, a US corporation with your valued mobile number, get ready for a flood of sewage.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: They should anyway

          "Facebook will have your phone number. "

          Lions,tigers and bears, oh my!

          Do you really believe Facebook doesn't already have my number? Or yours? Google too. I'm absolutely certain they have my phone number. I suspect some of the hundreds of online retailers I have used over the last decade will have been hacked too so the number isn't exactly a state secret.

      3. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
        WTF?

        Re: They should anyway

        No advertising?

        So what's the revenue model?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      'everyone should stop using WhatsApp'

      No argument with that! But the problem is, there's a vast number of countries using WhatsApp and Facebook and Google too, to run their institutions, governments and businesses. Its a shitfest!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They should anyway

      I think that everyone should stop using WhatsApp (along with anything else owned by Facebook) anyway. Facebook can't be trusted, and therefore all companies that Facebook owns can't be trusted.

      Oh, it's far, FAR more interesting than that. Now it's formally in black and white in court papers it's impossible to deny that WhatsApp shares data. Which can also be termed as A Flaming Big Risk For Any Business That Uses It, because it is impossible to deny that you thus willingly share customer data with an untrusted third party (based in a country with at best questionable laws and law enforcement) without the permission of the data owner.

      After all, I can't stop you from entering my details in your address book, but as soon as you share that as a business without my explicit permission you are in breach, no excuses.

      Hello GDPR, May might be a fun time for privacy. From my contacts in the consulting world I've already heard there's little take up of their offers of assistance, so nobody is interested in even pretending they aim at compliance. This means we can look forward to someone big being made an costly example. Not that I think anyone is brave enough to risk a trade war by ripping the balls off the US companies that abuse our privacy, but someone is going to get hit very hard.

    4. big_D Silver badge

      Re: They should anyway

      The problem is, so many people use WhatsApp, it needs some momentum to get people to switch. Why use 2 or 3 chat clients, when you already have one you use with (nearly) all of your contacts? For the non-privacy and non-tech aware people, it is easy.

      And, according to the German DPC, using WhatsApp is illegal, if you have it scour your contacts for, erm, contacts as this information is sent to the WhatsApp servers without obtaining the permission of those contacts first...

  4. Spacedinvader
    WTF?

    ...summer 2016, a privacy policy update...

    I've still not had this notification!

  5. seven of five

    The exact wording will be:

    "We promise not to share you data until you catch us doing it."

  6. Alan Mackenzie

    It'll be a win for the data protection of UK customers when ....

    ... the responsible executive at Facebook spends a couple of years in a UK gaol.

    Until that's a possibility, they'll continue to giggle at what passes for "data protection".

  7. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Devil

    Turns light on...

    ... and the 'roaches scuttle away into the shadows.

    Turns light off...

    ... and they crawl out again.

  8. shaolin cookie

    About that opt-out

    Yes, the terms and conditions for existing users did have the possibility to opt-out of advertising. However, when you change phones (keeping the same number), you're forced to accept the terms without any opt out, even if you had opted out on the old phone. Bastards.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Signal

    Facebook itself may be useful, but we know it can’t be trusted, so, by extension, any other system that Facebook gets its hands on also can’t be trusted (the weaknesses of what doesn’t pass for data protection legislation in the USA doesn’t help, either).

    I really don’t know why more people don’t just go straight to the source and use Signal messenger instead?

    1. Roj Blake Silver badge

      Re: Signal

      People don't use Signal because none of their friends do.

      And of course, their friends don't use it because none of *their* friends do.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Signal

        People don't use Signal because none of their friends do.

        Mine now do. And, to be honest, I have no problem ignoring people who don't respect my privacy.

        I am very much toying with the idea of talking to the EU commission about finding ways to expand the Data Subject Access Request to any organisation seeking to trade in the EU to force the likes of Facebook, LinkedIn, Google and Microsoft to cough up in full what they have collected about me from/through others, because that is at the moment a gaping gap in the legislation.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Signal

      .. or Telegram which is functionally close to WhatsCrap, or the best of all, Threema. The latter costs vast sums of money (some £2 or so), which is apparently too high a cost for privacy for some people :)

      There are IMHO simply too many alternatives -mostly free- to justify using WhatsApp

  10. Tinslave_the_Barelegged Silver badge

    Quandary

    An elderly family member is ill and probably heading for his last few weeks. The rest of the family uses WhatsApp to stay in touch about this, and the pressure to succumb and join is severe. I found out about this last slurp, or alleged slurp, or slurp but not a slurp if the ICO thinks we're slurping,when looking to see if the Ts and Cs were at all reasonable. At a time like this, I can't expect the family members to research an alternative, like Wire, but at the same time, I just can't bring myself to gift myself to Facebook even if the utility of the present moment is overwhelming. What to do, oh, what to do...?

    TL;DR - Look at all the good that can be done with WhatsApp, but the price is just too high.

  11. GIRZiM Bronze badge
    Black Helicopters

    Re: Signal

    None of the alternatives to Signal can be considered secure at this stage, least of all Telegram which has proprietary 'roll your own' server crypto (by two mathematicians with no crypto experience) that cannot be audited.

    As for Threema, Wire, WICKR, whichever of the others I've regularly investigated over the last five years or so (last time was around two months ago) but forgotten about (Viber, anyone?), either there are still concerns about the privacy/security measures that are serious enough to warrant a "I'll stick with Signal" or they aren't significant enough for me to even remember that they exist - and in that latter case they certainly don't have the manpower behind them to keep on top of security flaws well enough for us to rely upon.

    I'd love to like Threema myself, for instance, but the server source isn't available, it doesn't enforce PFS, it includes cloud backup of messages (which involves a third party by definition), there are no self-destructing messages (for what they're worth, I know, but nevertheless) and the need for payment means there is no anonymity (the IRL owner of a BTC is identifiable in 60% of cases).

    Then you have to look at their provenance and funding: Wire might seem lovely and hippyish but what's to say it won't get sold the same way Skype was? Open Whisper Systems otoh have serious user/civil-rights/activist credentials and their funding is less opaque than that of Wire.

    The only one mentioned on the EFF's Surveillance Self-Defense page is Signal (yeah, WhatsApp too, but it's a self-defence guide and some people won't listen to reason so they do their best by them).

    Snowden and Schneier recommend Signal.

    Nothing and no-one is perfect, but until the others are given as clean a bill of health as Signal by all auditors that's where I go for my messaging.

    As for those people who say "Oh but you can't get people to use multiple messaging apps", yes you can. Insist on it. People come around eventually, get used to having multiple messaging apps just the same way they got used to having Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp and Instagram and SnapChat and all the other apps they have on their phones for all the different things they do; it's an app not a second phone to lug around for goodness sake - launch it, use it, minimise it, forget it until you next need to use it or it bings at you (even your grandmother can do that without breaking a sweat).

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