Dear Koum from WhatsApp: is that the Whole Truth? Umm…

image credit: source
image credit: source

Yesterday, Jan Koum published a post on the WhatsApp’s blog to try to clear the air regarding the giant scandal of Facebook’s multibillion acquisition of WhatsApp.

In an effort to “set the record straight,” Koum declared that the new deal with Facebook would absolutely not affect the way WhatsApp handles user data. As far as Koum is concerned,”Respect for [user] privacy is coded into our DNA […] and we really have no plans to change that. If partnering with Facebook meant that we had to change our values, we wouldn’t have done it.”

To back up his claims, Koum adds a laundry list of things that WhatsApp doesn’t, and will continue to not ask for in terms of its users’ data. From emails, birthdays, home addresses, occupation, GPS location, and anything in between, he says, WhatsApp doesn’t collect or store that kind data. Basically, Koum sees it, WhatsApp is an autonomous entity, which maintains its rights to make sure that its “fundamental values and […] principles will not change” in light of the acquisition.

Somehow, though, his post seems to lack the reassuring quality that we’d like to be able to get from it.

Just because WhatsApp isn’t asking for new user data doesn’t mean that the existing user data hasn’t already been mined, even more so since the acquisition; WhatsApp even states in the second to last paragraph of its privacy policy:

In the event that WhatsApp is acquired by or merged with a third party entity, we reserve the right to transfer or assign the information we have collected from our users as part of such merger, acquisition, sale, or other change of control…

Given enough time, Facebook is going to have your phone number regardless of whether or not you’ve given it to them personally. As a matter of fact, they’re legally entitled to ALL the data that WhatsApp has collected and kept.

Looks like, no matter how you dice it, Facebook’s one step closer to owning all there is to know about your relationships.

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