More flexible privacy terms applied by WhatsApp; agree or otherwise

The looser privacy terms for WhatsApp, which prompted some users to seek alternative chat apps, will be enforced as of May 15, the company says. Anyone who has not accepted the new terms by that date will no longer be able to read or send messages, and will face the possibility of having their account deleted entirely.

Separately, the Clubhouse invitation-only audio chat app has suffered a security breach that has made the audio sources available on a third-party website …

More flexible privacy terms for WhatsApp

WhatsApp notified users last month that new and more flexible privacy terms were about to be introduced. Here’s the background.

WhatsApp will shortly begin to share your data with Facebook as a condition for using the application. This completes a U-turn that began when Facebook first acquired the app in 2014.

At the time, WhatsApp assured users that their data would remain private and would not be shared with Facebook. The first part of the U-turn came in 2016, when WhatsApp started sharing data with Facebook by default. However, at that time, existing users could choose not to share the data. The upcoming changes to the privacy policy of the messaging app remove the opt-out option.

The new terms were due to take effect on February 8, but objections from users forced the company to delay the change as it sought to provide peace of mind. He emphasized that user-to-user chats remain encrypted from one end to the other, and that the shared data would come from user messages with companies, which are not protected in the same way. Still, many remain unhappy and say they won’t agree to the terms.

WhatsApp now says that users must agree before the new deadline of May 15. If they don’t, they will no longer be able to read or send messages.

To give you enough time to review the changes at your own pace and convenience, we have extended the effective date to May 15. If you have not accepted by then WhatsApp will not delete your account. However, you will not have the full functionality of WhatsApp until you accept it. For a short time, you can receive calls and notifications, but you cannot read or send messages from the application.

After that, you will still have time to change your mind, but only about four months.

You can still accept updates after May 15. Our policy regarding inactive users will apply […] To maintain security, limit data retention, and protect the privacy of our users, WhatsApp accounts are generally deleted after 120 days of inactivity.

If you choose to delete your account instead, the company advises that there is no going back.

If you want to delete your account on Android, iPhone or KaiOS, we hope you will reconsider. It is something that we cannot reverse as it clears your message history, removes you from all your WhatsApp groups, and deletes your WhatsApp backups.

Clubhouse chats violated

The Clubhouse audio chat app has recently received millions of downloads following its adoption by some high-profile figures in the tech world.

The Clubhouse app reached 8.1 million global downloads on the iOS App Store on February 16. […] Tesla founder Elon Musk and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg have already created a Clubhouse account and interacted with other users there. Other celebrities and high-profile people have also been using the new app.

Bloomberg reports that Clubhouse chats were breached not long after the company claimed to have increased security.

A week after the popular Clubhouse audio chat room app said it was taking steps to ensure that malicious hackers or spies couldn’t steal user data, at least one attacker has shown that live audio from the platform may drift.

An unidentified user was able to stream Clubhouse’s audio broadcasts this weekend from “various rooms” to his own third-party website, said Reema Bahnasy, a Clubhouse spokeswoman. While the company says that particular user is “permanently banned” and installed new “safeguards” to prevent a recurrence, the researchers contend that the platform may not be in a position to make such promises.

Users of the invitation-only iOS app should assume that all conversations are being recorded, said the Stanford Internet Observatory, which was the first to publicly raise security concerns on February 13, Sunday night. “Clubhouse cannot offer any promise of privacy for conversations held anywhere in the world,” said Alex Stamos, director of SIO and former head of security for Facebook Inc.

Chinese dissidents have been urged to be especially cautious, as data processing and audio production are handled not by the Clubhouse itself, but by a Shanghai-based startup.

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