What's Up With WhatsApp? 'Private' Chats Not So Private After All

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Another social media storm is brewing on how private your private messages really are. WhatsApp recently hit the headlines in Britain amid reports the Prime Minister wanted to ban the messenger service because it uses encrypted data which preserves users' privacy.
Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron speaks during a television program at the BBC in London - Sputnik International
British PM Wants to Ban WhatsApp, iMessage Under New Surveillance Plans

This is data that Britain's Prime Minister and UK Home Office want access to so that they can stop criminals and potential terrorists from operating in a so-called "safe place".

"There shouldn't be a guaranteed safe space for terrorists, criminals and pedophiles to operate beyond the reach of the law," said a Downing Street statement.

But it appears WhatsApp isn't so safe, after all.

A new report from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) titled 'Who Has Your Back? 2015: Protecting Your Data From Government Requests' has found that WhatsApp, the instant chat service owned by Facebook, failed to meet industry best practices, communicate government data demands to its users, and to disclose its policies on data retention, as well as disclosing the extent of government content removal requests it receives.

"Although the EFF gave the company a full year to prepare for its inclusion in the report, it has adopted none of the best practices we've identified as part of this report," says according to the foundation.

Meanwhile, all but three of the tech companies evaluated by EFF openly opposed backdoors for authorities to garner encrypted information.

"One of the big trends we're seeing across the tech industry is a rejection of government-mandated security weaknesses. In fact, 21 of the 24 companies we evaluated took a public position opposing backdoors. This is a powerful statement from the technology community."

Escape key - Sputnik International
UK Companies in Mass Tech Exodus Over Controversial Snoopers' Charter

Meanwhile, Britain is pressing ahead with a new Communications Data Bill, nicknamed the 'Snooper's Charter'. The legislation, proposed by Home Secretary Theresa May would require Internet Service Providers and mobile phone companies to keep records of each user's communications data.

This means, every instant chat, every telephone call, every email and even what you browse for on Google would be stored for at least 12 months. The bill has been beaten back before by privacy campaigners and former Deputy Prime Minister and LibDem leader Nick Clegg. But May wants this new piece of legislation introduced by the next parliament.

So according to the report, if you don't fancy any prying eyes on your WhatsApp chats, switch to Dropbox, Adobe, Apple, Wikimedia, WordPress and Yahoo instead.

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