Facebook's acquisition of WhatsApp was met with skeptics among users at the time due to privacy concerns. Both companies tried to calm fears, but as it stands right now, it would seem as if those fears have been realized with the recent move by Facebook to collect data from the popular messaging service.
With this new plan in play, several privacy groups have decided to take matters in their own hands in a bid to stop WhatsApp from sharing user data with Facebook. One of these groups, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), says this move is a firm violation of Federal Trade Commission's consent order.
The group is planning to file a complaint against WhatsApp and Facebook for allegedly violating Federal Trade Commission act that is against "unfair and deceptive trade practice."
EPIC believes WhatsApp lied to its users when it promised back in 2014 that it will not share user data with Facebook. This will be the basis of the group's campaign going forward, and they hope it will be enough to convince the Federal Trade Commission to move against WhatsApp and Facebook.
WhatsApp stated that it needs to share limited data with Facebook to help with the friend finder feature, and to make it possible for users to better communicate with businesses. To calm fears, WhatsApp says all messages will still be encrypted, and as such, should not be readable by WhatsApp and Facebook employees.
Users should bear in mind that they have 30 days to opt out of the feature the moment it goes live. Users should see a pop-up message on WhatsApp the next time they open the app, and from there, they can allow WhatsApp or not to share their data with Facebook.
Interestingly, after deciding to waive, there doesn't seem to be a way to opt in. We're not certain if this is because of the user declining, or if it happens across the board.
We doubt what this privacy group is doing will have any huge effect, or even manage to stop WhatsApp and Facebook from moving along with its plan. By giving users the power to opt out, that could be used as a clause to convince the Federal Trade Commission that users have a choice to accept this or not.
The whole thing is complicated right now as several bodies are investigating both WhatsApp and Facebook to make sure these companies continue to comply with privacy laws.
Photo: Jan Persiel | Flickr