Germany’s data chief tells ministries WhatsApp is a no-go

Mixed messages here from WhatsApp in response to German concerns. I use WhatsApp and assume that the message is encrypted, but the metadata about who, when, and where are stored. If WhatsApp (or Facebook, or the security services…) want to check who I’ve been talking to then it’s there in the logs. The same applies to any messaging app. The only alternative is to run your own messaging app, and the world has moved away from that…:

[…] Data privacy commissioner Ulrich Kelber said any use of WhatsApp was prohibited for federal ministries and institutions, even if some had resorted to using it during the current pandemic.

In a letter to branches of the federal government, Kelber said that bodies must respect, and not neglect, data protection “even in these difficult times.”

He stressed that federal entities were obliged to uphold Germany law and had a role model function.

The Düsseldorf newspaper Handelsblatt said Kelber, previously a Social Democrat (SPD) federal parliamentarian, was reacting to complaints from citizens about the use of WhatsApp by unnamed federal authorities.

“Just by sending messages, metadata is delivered to WhatsApp every time,” said Kelber, adding that it could be assumed that these data snippets were then forwarded directly to Facebook, WhatsApp’s parent concern.

“These contribute, even if only as a small piece of the mosaic, to the increased storage of personal profiles,” he wrote, referring to IP addresses and locations.

WhatsApp, cited in Handelblatt’s Monday edition, rebutted Kelber’s warning, saying the messaging service did not forward user data to Facebook — for example, to enable more accurately the distribution of online advertising.


Original article here