Let's set the record straight: there is no evidence that Google has read your WhatsApp messages nor seen those photos (yes, those) in order to extrapolate useful information to show you personalized advertisements and transfer the data to third parties for marketing purposes. That's all. It is right to start from here considering the deliberately sensationalist headlines circulating in these hours about the story. What happened? Let us try to explain it in detail.
Does Google read WhatsApp messages? Let's be clear
Yesterday the attorneys general of 10 American states (Texas, Arkansas, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota and Utah) made a formal antitrust accusation (different from the one that instead brought together 38 states) towards the group and its practices relating toadvertising. On page 57/130 of the filed document an alleged is cited exclusive agreement with Facebook in order to be able to access messages, photos, videos and audio exchanged by users on WhatsApp. Below is an excerpt by translating the readable parts.
Google has also violated user privacy in other ways that are convenient for Google. For example, shortly after Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2015, Facebook signed an exclusive agreement with Google allowing Google access to messages, photos, videos and audio files exchanged on WhatsApp by millions of Americans via end-to-end encryption. end.
Reference is made to the fact that all of this happened unbeknownst to the users. There is also a video shared on Twitter in which Ken Paxton, Texas Attorney General, summarizes the highlights of the antitrust lawsuit filed against the Mountain View giant over issues related primarily to the online advertising market.
#BREAKING: Texas takes the lead once more! Today, we’re filing a lawsuit against #Google for anticompetitive conduct.
This internet Goliath used its power to manipulate the market, destroy competition, and harm YOU, the consumer. Stay tuned… pic.twitter.com/fdEVEWQb0e
- Texas Attorney General (@TXAG) December 16, 2020
No details are provided, but considering how the acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook is to be traced back to October 2014 and how the implementation of the end-to-end encryption (which ended in 2016), not even Mark Zuckerberg's group has or would have had the opportunity to access the information exchanged by users within the chats.
Perhaps the reference is to the backup of conversations on Drive, which, however, unlike what is claimed, are carried out only after obtaining the explicit consent from the user. The two companies have not made any comments on the matter due to the ongoing lawsuit, limiting themselves to both denying having signed agreements of this type. In addition, bigG refers to a June post signed by CEO Sundar Pichai which speaks of the will of protect privacy when it comes to content like this.
We do not sell the information to anyone and we do not use information from apps where you mainly save personal content such as Gmail, Drive, Calendar and Photos for advertising purposes. Point.
At any rate the accusation made cannot be ignored, first of all because it was the result of a long-lasting investigation based on a series of collected evidence. Unfortunately, since the document is not accessible in all its parts, it is difficult at the moment to investigate the question. One hypothesis is that it refers to the negotiation for a possible agreement and not to an agreement then actually stipulated. We will certainly come back to talk about it. Google and Facebook have at least the duty to clarify with a clear and detailed press release made available to users. That said, to date no concrete evidence has been made public that what is described in the document really happened.
Source: The Verge Does Google read your WhatsApp messages? No.