Privacy is safe, says WhatsApp CEO

2014-03-18 07:31
(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

(Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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San Francisco - The CEO of WhatsApp on Monday dismissed concerns that the acquisition of the popular messaging app by Facebook would result in less privacy for users.

In a posting on the company's blog, Jan Koum, 37, said a major motivation behind his creation of the app was his desire to ensure the privacy that he had never enjoyed while growing up under Soviet rule in his native Ukraine.

"Respect for your privacy is coded into our DNA, and we built WhatsApp around the goal of knowing as little about you as possible," wrote Koum, who noted that the site does not insist on knowing users' names or e-mail addresses, and does not know their home addresses, employers, birthdates or internet search histories.

Koum insisted that the $19bn sale in February of the company to Facebook would not change that, despite Facebook's renowned appetite for as much user data as possible.


"If partnering with Facebook meant that we had to change our values, we wouldn't have done it," Koum wrote.

"Instead, we are forming a partnership that would allow us to continue operating independently and autonomously. Our focus remains on delivering the promise of WhatsApp far and wide, so that people around the world have the freedom to speak their mind without fear."

Those assurances may not convince experts who have contended that the popular messaging platform has serious vulnerabilities.

Paul Jauregui at the security firm Praetorian said that the way the WhatsApp handles SSL encryption is not ideal, leaving the platform open to attacks.

Bass Bosschert, a Dutch security expert warned that because of the way WhatsApp saves its data on an SD card on an Android device, it was possible to hack the data.

He put the blame on Google's Android system though, rather than WhatsApp.

WhatsApp has around 450 million users globally.
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