Whatsapp What's Up With All The Access Permissions?

Dear Whatsapp developers and management,

As a long-term user of Whatsapp, I was slightly concerned when I heard about your sale to Facebook. I worried that my privacy would be violated in one way or another to further the development of your business.

I thought that my fears were unfounded and pointless for a while, and though I had initially pulled back from using Whatsapp after its sale, I eventually went back to using it on a more regular basis.

This past week though my phone has updated many applications and at one point reminded me that 3 or 4 needed permission before they could be updated – including Whatsapp.

As I went through the process of reviewing the permissions I was granting the apps on my phone, I was literally stopped in my tracks when I got to the Whatsapp permissions.

I get why you would need some permissions, but some of the requests that came with the latest update just sent a chill down my spine.

Can you help me to understand why a text messaging app would need permission to do any of the following:-

1) Take pictures and videos? Surely I could just access my gallery and attach a picture or video that I have already taken?

2) Retrieve information about other applications I have running on my phone? No offence or anything but its none of your f***ing business what other apps I use, you’re only interested from a marketing viewpoint- while I’m looking at this as a privacy violation.

3) Why do you want full access to my network- including the ability to turn my access on and off? Again this is taking it a little too far.

4) What phone calls does a messaging app make? I’m particularly interested in this one out of genuine curiosity- who does a Whatsapp application call?

5) When it comes to the contact information I have stored in my phone, I’ve gone to a bit of trouble to make sure that I have contact details correct and so I don’t get why I would again want to give access to Whatsapp to modify my contacts? What if Whatsapp just changes all my contact details to this number that it seems to want to dial?

6) Having heard recently about Facebook wanting to get access to what people are doing in the background so that they can decide what users might like, I kind of understand the request for permission to access my microphone and record my audio- but again how do I know you are not going to start recording when I’m in the middle of an important private meeting with my solicitor??

7) I love how you hid this one right down the very end, probably hoping that users wouldn’t bother to scroll down and read the whole lot- what on earth gives you the right to think that I would give Whatsapp access to not only all of the above, but on top of all those invasions – you want me to give you permission to add and remove accounts, create accounts, set passwords and use any accounts on my device? Are you serious??


You do understand that in this day and age many people run their lives from the devices in their pockets, don’t you? But you, you actually want to do all the above and access every aspect of everyone’s personal lives.

Tonight I received a message from Whatsapp telling me that my version will no longer work, as I have not updated to the most recent version and given you permission to access to my private details.

And it was only a few days ago when we were hearing about the new “Reform Government Surveillance” drive. It’s easy to tell people one thing while doing the opposite. Guess it’s a case lip-service rather than public service.

Sorry as I’ll be to miss out on my chats with my friends, I’d rather not spend my days worrying about when you feel its appropriate to turn on my mic, access my many apps, or just open a new account without my knowledge.

Anyway, I just thought I’d share my thoughts with you on the whole double standard thing you’ve got going on.

Happy surveilling,

Orna- no longer a Whatsapp user.



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