The great “WhatsApp” Privacy Grab!!!
The news that Face book was buying WhatsApp for a staggering 19 billion dollars prompted me to find out what all the fuss was about, as this old dodderer hadn’t even heard of WhatsApp prior to this massive take-over.
What on earth was I missing out on?
Oh, I see, it’s a free messenger service….
Don’t I already have that on Skype?
Oh, I see, it has 450 million users and 1 million more signing up every day.
It must be worth looking into….
Hmm… can’t install it on my PC without some kind of massive conversion programme, as it is android/smart phone-based…
That’s a bummer…. but never mind let’s see how it works on my Samsung smart phone…
Go to ‘search’ on Play Store, type in: Whatsapp – ah, there it is, click ‘install’
Up comes the ‘standard crap’ that I have to agree to, and then click accept before the download can start…
Wait a goddamn second!
This is a bit more than just ‘Standard Crap’….
WTF is all this? ?????
Below, folks, according to Samsung, is the list of ‘permissions’ you would be giving to WhatsApp if you agree to have the WhatsApp Messenger installed on your phone.
Note – you cannot accept some and decline others…. It is all or nothing…
Receive text messages (SMS)
Allows the app to receive and process SMS messages. This means that the app could monitor or delete messages sent to your device without showing them to you.
Send SMS messages
Allows the app to send SMS messages. This may result in unexpected charges. Malicious apps may cost you money by sending messages without your confirmation
Modify or delete the contents of your SD card
Allows the app to write to the SD card.
Approximate location (network based)
Allows the app to get your approximate location. This location is derived by location services using network location sources such as mobile towers and Wi-Fi. These location services must be turned on and available to your device for the app to use them. Apps may use this to determine approximately where you are.
Precise location (GPS & network-based)
Allows the app to get your precise location using Global Positioning System (GPS) or network location sources, such as mobile towers and Wi-Fi. These location services must be turned on and available to your device for the app to use them. Apps may use this to determine where you are and may consume additional battery power.
Allows the app to record audio with the microphone. This permission allows the app to record audio at any time without your confirmation.
Take picture and videos.
Allows the app to take pictures and videos with the camera. This permission allows the app to use the camera at any time without your confirmation.
Your applications information
Retrieve running apps
Allow the app to retrieve information about currently and recently running tasks. This may allow the app to discover information about which application s are used on the device.
Your personal information
Read your own contact card
Allows the app to read personal profile information on your device, such as your name and contact information. This means the app can identify you and may send your profile information to others.
Add or remove accounts
Allows the app to perform operations like adding and removing accounts and deleting their password.
Create accounts and set passwords.
Allows the app to use the account authenticator capabilities of the Account Manager, including creating account and getting and setting their passwords.
Use accounts on the device
Allows the app to request authentication tokens.
Connect t and disconnect from Wi-Fi
Allows the app to connect to and disconnect from Wi-Fi access points and to make changes to device configuration for Wi-Fi networks.
Full Network access.
Allows the app to create network sockets and use customised network protocols. The browser and other applications provide means to send data to the internet, so this permission is not required to send data to the internet.
Directly call phone numbers
Allows the app to call phone numbers without your intervention. This may result in unexpected charges or calls. Note that this doesn’t allow the app to call emergency numbers. Malicious apps may cost you money by making calls without your confirmation.
Read phone status and identity
Allows the app to access the phone features of this device. This permission allows the app to determine the phone number and device ID’s, whether a call is active and the remote number connected by a call.
Your social information
Modify you contacts
Allows the app to modify the data about your contacts stored on your phone, including the frequency with which you’ve called, emailed or communicated in other ways with specific contacts. This permission allows apps to delete contact data.
Read your contacts
Allows the app to read data about your contacts stored on your phone, including the frequency with which you’ve called, emailed or communicated in other ways with specific individuals. This permission allows apps to save your contact data, and malicious apps may share your contact data without your knowledge.
Read sync settings
Allows the app to read the sync settings for an account. For example, this can determine whether the app is synced with an account.
Read the sync statistics
Allows the app to read the sync stats for an account, including the history of sync events and how much data is synced.
Toggle sync on and off
Allows an app to modify the sync settings for an account. For example, this can be used to enable syncing of the people app with an account.
Allows an application to add shortcuts without user intervention
Modify system settings
Allows the app to modify the system’s settings data. Malicious apps may corrupt your system’s configuration.
Test access to protected storage.
Allows the app to test a permission for the SD card that will be available for future devices.
Allows an application to remove shortcuts without user intervention.
Allows the app to control the vibrator.
Prevent phone from sleeping
Allows the app to prevent the phone from going to sleep.
Run at start-up
Allows the app to have itself started as soon as the system has finished booting. This can make it take longer to start the phone and allow the app to slow down the overall phone by always running.
Google Play billing service
Allows the user to purchase items through Google Play from within this app.
Receive data from the internet
Allows apps to accept cloud-to-device messages sent by the app’s service. Using this service will incur data usage. Malicious apps could cause excess data usage.
View Wi-Fi connections
Allows the app to view information about WI-FI networking, such as whether Wi-Fi is enabled and name of connected Wi-Fi devices.
View network connections
Allows the app to view information about network connections such as which networks exists and are connected.
Find accounts on the device
Allows the app to get the list of accounts known by the phone. This may include any accounts created by applications that you have installed.
Read Google service configuration
Allows this app to read Google service configuration data.
In other words…
this innocent little application that will allow you to send and receive free messages over the internet, (a service which has already been provided by Skype for many years), will…
completely take over your phone and will be able to make and receive calls, send and receive messages; access all of your – and your contacts – personal details, (and change and delete them without your permission); take pictures on your phone camera; record conversations from your phone microphone; track and record your precise location; turn your phone off and on; connect and disconnect you from your Wi-Fi or other network connections as well as retaining details of them; drain your phone battery by its nefarious activities … and on….and on…. ad infinitum…
OK we all feel a little uncomfortable about the privacy hacking that was exposed by Edward Snowden, but isn’t this privacy grab by companies such as WhatsApp taking invasion of our privacy to a whole new level?
This really is “1984” gone crazy.
450 million++ people have voluntarily become ensnared, with an additional 1 million a day falling over themselves to sign up.
And how many hundreds of millions from Facebook will now follow their fellow sheep? Or will they be automatically signed up by virtue of their existing Facebook membership?
It sort of puts the ‘Data collection’ activities of the NSA and GCHQ into the shade… doesn’t it?