At the time when Facebook is being criticized for collecting user data and #DeleteFacebook movement is getting bigger, a recent claim that WhatsApp is also subjected to privacy concerns has started making rounds on the internet. This piece of information shouldn't actually be too shocking to you as WhatsApp is owned by Facebook. However, this is pretty upsetting as WhatsApp has over 1.5 billion monthly active users and the most popular instant messaging platform right now.
As per a recent report by The Next Web, an app called Chatwatch has been discovered to have capabilities letting others spy on your WhatsApp availability and know if you have read the texts even if you have disabled read receipts and last seen. It is said that the app will make use of the public online or offline status to dwell into your presence on the app.
How Chatwatch works?
The Chatwatch app is said to leverage the public online or offline status to tell your friends if you are available for chat. With this data, Chatwatch can tell how often you check WhatsApp. Based this activity, it can also estimate the time when you go to sleep and wake up as well.
No interaction is needed
According to the report, those at The Next Web have tried this app to know how it works. The report states that the app can work even if you have disabled the settings such as read receipts and last seen. The app was found to detect if a specific WhatsApp user is online or not just by initiating a conversion with them, even if no messages were actually sent. This shows that the app could be automating the process of checking on users and collecting the data to come up with insights.
Snooping comes at a cost
The Chatwatch app comes at a cost. To snoop on two members for a week, it costs $2 (approx. Rs. 130). And, it can let users snoop on up to 10 people for a higher cost. Notably, the app appears to have been taken down from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store now due to privacy concerns.
What about end-to-end encryption?
WhatsApp has always advocated about user privacy and data encryption. The instant messaging platform is encrypted end-to-end so that the messages cannot be read by anyone else. With this report, there arises a question about the efficiency of the end-to-end encryption.