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Battle Rages on Whatsapp Acquisition by Facebook

Written by - Reviewed by Glozine Team

Published: Mar 14, 2014 | Last Updated: Nov 27, 2017

Sighting user’ privacy security concerns, two privacy groups are calling the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate and if possible block $19 billion acquisition of mobile messaging app Whatsapp by Facebook in a case filled on Thursday.

Despite the fact that Whatsapp demonstrates strong commitment to user privacy, Facebook’s current messaging service gathers and stores “virtually all available user data”, in reference to a complaint filled by the Electronic Privacy Information Center for Digital Democracy.

Whatsapp assures its users that it doesn’t retain or sell personal information, and that is the reason many users opted for the service based on its privacy protections, but Facebook collects user information from companies that it acquires.

Julia Horwitz, EPIC’s consumer protection counsel said through a mail that Whatsapp users rely on its services to maintain the privacy of their communications adding that their complaints are to urge the FTC to investigate if Facebook has sufficient privacy protections in place to continue shielding the information of Whatsapp users from access to Facebook. She added that this was the main feature that made Whatsapp appealing in the first place.

It would be a deceptive business practice if Facebook begins collecting Whatsapp user data since Whatsapp initial privacy policy was keen on user information. This is according to the group writing which also noted that Whatsapp failure to adequately disclose their commitment to privacy was subject to reversal conditions adding that it would be violating FTC rules.

The group said that if the FTC fails to block Whatsapp acquisition by Facebook, it should ‘insulate’ the app’s users from Facebook data collection.

In reference to a Facebook spokeswoman, the acquisition will not compromise Whatsapp privacy practices. She added that Facebook intention was to bring connectivity and utility to all corners of the world by delivering core internet services efficiently at an affordable cost. Through an email, she said that they have repeatedly stated that Whatsapp will operate a detached company and will honor its pledge to privacy and security.

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