Is WhatsApp breaking the law? If you live in Canada or the Netherlands it does, at least according to a new report from privacy watchers. The application is coming under fire because it requires that a user opens up his or her address book to the service without specific consent or choice. Worse, the company is allegedly holding on to phone numbers of people who don’t even use the service.
“This lack of choice contravenes privacy law. Both users and non-users should have control over their personal data and users must be able to freely decide what contact details they wish to share with WhatsApp,” Jacob Kohnstamm, chairman of the Dutch Data Protection Authority, told Reuters recently.
Typically this probably shouldn’t be a huge issue because users are consenting to installing the application in the first place, but it gained more attention after Kohnstamm and his team noticed that WhatsApp stores the phone numbers of people who don’t use the application. In other words, it might keep your phone number because you installed the service, but it’s also keeping the phone numbers of everyone in your address book, whether they have WhatsApp installed or not.