WhatsApp Messenger is a wildly popular cross-platform SMS replacement service. It allows you to group chat and send media files to other users, and it’s estimated to have in upwards of 300 million users.

Well if you’re one of those 300 million users, you might be interested to know that according to a new report, the app violates international privacy laws due to the way it handles Address Book data…

Reuters (via MacRumors) reports:

“WhatsApp, one of the most popular apps in the world, contravenes international privacy laws because it forces users to provide access to their entire address book, Canadian and Dutch data protection authorities said…

…The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC) and the Dutch Data Protection Authority, in a joint report released on Monday, said the app violated privacy laws because users have to provide access to all phone numbers in their address book, including both users and non-users of the app.”

In iOS 6, Apple starting requiring developers to obtain user permission before their apps can access their data. But the problem is, you can only enable or disable Address Book access, you can’t pick and choose contacts.

“This lack of choice contravenes (Canadian and Dutch) 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,” said Jacob Kohnstamm, chairman of the Dutch Data Protection Authority.”

Apple has had a lot of problems over the years with iOS privacy concerns. Last year, the big story was Path. The social network was found uploading user contact data without consent. And then there was locationgate in 2011.

Anyway, according to investigators, WhatsApp says it’s soon going to start allowing manual contact input. Authorities say they are going to continue to monitor the app, and will impose penalties if it doesn’t follow through.

  • How did they expect to be able to get notification when a friend joins WhatsApp on a Smartphone? No need discouraging such wonderful service that’s making SMS history.

    • sambuzzlight

      exactly and also doesn’t the app ‘viber’ do this too? along with other apps?

      • sadaN

        I whole bunch of them do, but they’re not hurting the stupid carriers feelings as much as Whatsapp does!

        This is just silly, no one is forced to use the app, you’re all fussy about sharing stuff on your phone? Just don’t use, and miss what this great app has to offer, pay abusive prices for sending silly texts instead!

        Fuck monopoly!

      • sadaN

        “A whole bunch”….

      • aaa

        Actually if you use the Facebook app you are now forced to use the messenger app as well or you can’t reply to/view messages . I didn’t want the app & it feels forced on me .. Needless to say I no longer use the Facebook app at all .

  • doesn’t kik messenger do that to?

  • Its ok if whatsapp violate law …………

  • jose castro

    now they tell us

  • And also it tells other user that u are chatting whit someone else it dont chow privacy when chatting whit others specially your ex it sucks

  • pauleebe

    HOW is this illegal? OBVIOUSLY a texting app needs access to your contacts, no different than Messages/Texts/iMessage!

    It ASKS the user for access, thus they can easily DECLINE access and just not use the app.

    • Because it wants someone else’s information of which you do not own. You can have many details of a person in your contacts list. Fraudsters talk of how easy it is to obtain info of victims on Facebook etc however in the case of apps like this the information is provided by someone else. Would you like it if a friend gave your phone number, full name, address to a complete stranger?

  • Mohammad Ridwan

    You don’t say…

  • Always every Messenger App does this, but when one hits the top like WhatApp did, this kind of news hit the headlines… it’s like Apple and 3G “antennagate” .. every mobile phone in the “right” 3G conditions gets the “grip of death” but this was news only with Apple… FUD at his best…

  • Not to mention that WhatsApps broadcasts most of your iPhones info, including the IMEI number when sending a message! This app has been off the list for a long time now.

  • WhatsApp violates privacy by showing you always online as soon as you’re in the app to all your contact whether you want to or not, it gives no option to disable that. That’s why I deleted it!