WhatsApp deal: Thumbs down?
High fives and thumbs up. That's what celebrating CEO Jan Koum of instant messaging company WhatsApp was doing after Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) decided to buy his company for 19 billion dollars. Not everybody is in cheer though: privacy groups Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) and Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) are determined to crash the party.
Complaints by the groups to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about the deal potentially breaking privacy guarantees may cut the party short. Regardless of the outcome, we can be sure of one thing: photos of the party will eventually appear on Facebook.
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Filling in for our humble blogwatcher Richi Jennings, is a humbler Stephen Glasskeys.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission should investigate Facebook's proposed...acquisition...of messaging app WhatsApp -- and possibly block it -- because of the potential impact on users' privacy, two privacy groups said in a complaint filed Thursday. MORE
Well-publicized data breaches over the past year and the revelations of [NSA] snooping have exacerbated growing unease about the amount of personal data that is being collected by...companies such as Google and Facebook, telecom companies and retailers, tech industry leaders said. MORE
Facebook draws legal complaints for treading outside the bounds of responsible data use on a fairly regular basis.
Despite WhatsApp's reassurances that it doesn't store or collect its customers' info, industry experts cited by EPIC and CDD state that many [chose WhatsApp] due to its commitment to privacy. ... Because of that, it's an even bigger concern that Facebook will start reaching for that information once the transaction goes through. MORE
Facebook responded with an e-mailed statement [about the complaint] that said, "As we have said repeatedly, Whatsapp will operate as a separate company and will honor its commitments to privacy and security." MORE
Facebook has insisted in the wake of the deal that it will leave WhatsApp alone ... Still, critics point out that privacy was one of WhatsApp's biggest selling points, whereas Facebook makes billions by mining its users' data. Some WhatsApp users simply don't trust Facebook to keep its hands off their messages.
[Facebook] could use [WhatsApp data] to figure out which of your friends you're genuinely close to. That could be a big asset in the company's quest to build the world's most comprehensive social graph. MORE
EPIC and CDD said the [Facebook purchase] violates WhatsApp users' understanding of their exposure to online advertising and constitutes an unfair and deceptive trade practice, which the FTC should investigate. MORE