People who use WhatsApp are putting their personal data at risk.
That's the damning conclusion drawn by a new privacy report, which rated the messaging app as one of the worst companies for protecting your rights online.
The report, called Who Has Your Back, has created by Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). It's been running since 2011 and benchmarks online services in terms of how they protect user data and content - particularly from snooping governments - and how transparent they are.
This is the first year that WhatsApp has been included.
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Out of a possible five stars, WhatsApp earned just one star. That’s despite the fact that EFF gave the company a year to prepare for it.
The Facebook owned service was criticized for not requiring a warrant before handing over customer messages and other data to authorities. This is particularly worrying for people living under regimes where swearing can land you in jail.
"WhatsApp should publicly require a warrant before turning over user content, publish a law enforcement guide and transparency report, have a stronger policy of informing users of government requests, and disclose its data retention policies,” says the report.
EFF ranks companies by five criteria:
- Whether the company follows the best practices for data security
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- Whether users are informed when the government requests for users' private data and content
- Whether the firm publishes public policies concerning retaining their customer's data
- Whether they reveal when the government has requested content be removed
- Whether they publicly oppose the idea of governments creating a backdoor into the services to allow easy-access to private content
Both Apple and Dropbox were awarded five stars and were praised for defending the privacy of their users. Other five star-rated companies include Yahoo, Adobe, WordPress and WikiMedia.
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Google, SnapChat, Tumblr and Microsoft only got three stars in the report, while Twitter and Facebook both earned four.