ISLAMABAD (MEDIA )
WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum on Monday said his company was serious about the privacy of users and had no plans to collect additional user data at behest of Facebook, which bought the instant messaging app in a $19 billion deal.
IN a blog post titled “Setting The Record Straight”, Koum’s reassurance on privacy came after speculation that WhatsApp would start collecting more user data due to its acquisition by Facebook.
“There has been a lot of inaccurate and careless information about what our future partnership (with Facebook) would mean for WhatsApp users’ data and privacy … I’d like to set the record straight,” said Koum.
“If partnering with Facebook meant that we had to change our values, we wouldn’t have done it. Our fundamental values and beliefs will not change. Our principles will not change.”
In the first week of March, Electronic Privacy Information Centre (EPIC), a privacy watchdog in the US, asked the Federal Trade Commission in the US to probe, and if required stay, the Facebook-WhatsApp deal because it represented a privacy risk for WhatsApp users.
EPIC said Facebook was known to change the data collection policies at the companies it acquired and if the same thing happened with WhatsApp, it would put over 450 million users at privacy risk.
Koum said that speculation on the change in privacy and data collection policies at WhatsApp were baseless and unfounded.
Koum said that as someone who grew up in the USSR, he understood the importance of privacy. “For me, this is very personal. I was born in Ukraine, and grew up in the USSR during the 1980s.
The fact that we couldn’t speak freely without the fear that our communications would be monitored by KGB is in part why we moved to the United States when I was a teenager,” he said.
“Respect for your privacy is coded into our DNA, and we built WhatsApp around the goal of knowing as little about you as possible: You don’t have to give us your name and we don’t ask for your email address.
We don’t know your birthday. We don’t know your home address. We don’t know where you work. We don’t know your likes, what you search for on the internet or collect your GPS location.
None of that data has ever been collected and stored by WhatsApp, and we really have no plans to change that,” said Koum.
Earlier at the Mobile World Congress (MWC), Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had made similar statements. He told the audience during his keynote presentation at the MWC that there would not be any change in WhatsApp privacy policies.
He also added that WhatsApp did not store the connect shared by users on its servers and hence Facebook had no access to chat logs of WhatsApp users.