WhatsApp Failed to Keep Our Data Safe, New Study Finds

By Maddie Stone on at

Concerned about NSA/GCHQ snooping? Better get rid of WhatsApp. That, at least, is one takeaway from the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s annual “Who Has Your Back?” scorecard, which tells us which tech companies are doing a reasonable job protecting user data, and which are failing abysmally.

As we have become increasingly aware of (and peeved by) government spying, we’ve started judging our tech services and gadgets not only on their quality, but on whether they can safeguard our data. The EFF, a nonprofit focused on digital rights, rates companies based on transparency to consumers about government data demands and content removal requests, data retention practices, and public positions on electronic backdoors.

In addition to WhatsApp receiving a piss poor grade, Google slipped up for the first time, earning only three stars compared with a perfect five in 2014. The tech giant was penalised on two major counts: The fact that it no longer discloses the full extent of its data retention, and diminished transparency regarding government data requests.

Still, the latest report wasn’t all doom and gloom. Apple, Adobe, Yahoo, Dropbox, and Sonic.net each received high marks, and overall, scores were way up compared with the first such study conducted in 2011. On the whole, tech companies seem to be shifting their data privacy stances in the right direction—but they’ve got a long road ahead before people begin trusting them again.


Top image via Shutterstock