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WhatsApp WARNING – Chat app blasted in damning new report on privacy

July 17, 2018

The Electronic Frontiers Foundation, EFF, has published its latest annual privacy audit, dubbed Who Has Your Back?

The report, which has been run annually since 2011, analyses the policies and public actions of 26 companies, ranking them based on five categories.

These include “follows industry-wide best practices”, “tells users about government data requests”, “promises not to sell-out users”, “stands up to NSL gag orders”, “pro-user public policy: Reform 702”.

According to the latest Who Has Your Back? report, nine companies earned full-marks, including Adobe, Pinterest, Dropbox, Lyft and Uber.

Apple, Google and Microsoft narrowly missed-out on the five-star rating.

Microsoft and Google dropped a star in the category “stands up to National Security Letter (NSL) gag orders”.

Twitter, Snap Inc, Airbnb, and Tumblr were each awarded three stars.

However, WhatsApp only managed to score a paltry two-stars – one of the lowest marks in the Electronic Frontiers Foundation report.

Amazon received the same score.

“We were disappointed that two technology companies fell short of other online services: Amazon and WhatsApp,” the latest Who Has Your Back? report states.

“While both companies have adopted industry-accepted best practices of requiring a warrant for content, publishing law-enforcement guidelines, and publishing a transparency report, and while we applaud both companies for advocating for reforms to over-broad NSA surveillance, these two companies are not acting as leaders in other criteria that we examine.

“They don’t have the strong public policies related to notifying users of government data requests that we have come to expect from tech companies; they don’t publicly promise to request judicial review of NSLs; and they aren’t meeting our criterion about not selling out users.

“We urge both Amazon and WhatsApp to improve their policies in the coming year so they match the standards of other major online services.”

This is not the first time Facebook-owned WhatsApp has been singled-out by the Electronic Frontiers Foundation.

Back in 2015, WhatsApp failed almost every category in the report – earning a single star out of five.Although the chat app has improved in the last two years, there is clearly still work to be done, according to the categories defined by the EFF.

The latest Who Has Your Back? report also acknowledges the progress made within the technology industry with regard to user protection.

All of the 26 companies evaluated in the EFF report have implemented at least some of the practices highlighted by the Electronic Frontiers Foundation.

EFF Senior Staff Attorney Nate Cardozo commented: “The tech industry as a whole has moved toward providing its users with more transparency, but telecommunications companies — which serve as the pipeline for communications and internet service for millions of Americans — are failing to publicly push back against government overreach.

“Both legacy telcos and the giants of Silicon Valley can and must do better. We expect companies to protect, not exploit, the data we have entrusted them with.”

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