WhatsApp reveals the list of data collected on your smartphone

WhatsApp has just lifted the veil on the complete list of data collected on your smartphone. The messaging application takes in particular information concerning your phone, your geographical position, the list of your contacts, and your use of the application. We take stock of all the revelations of the firm.

This November 22, 2021, WhatsApp published a new note on its official website. For once, the instant messenger owned by Meta (ex-Facebook) disclosed the list of all the data collected on the account of its users. This update of the “Privacy Policy” of WhatsApp wants to be more transparent about the information retrieved by the application, whether on Android or iPhone.

“We have added more details about what data we collect and use, why we store it, when we delete it and what services third parties provide to us”, specifies WhatsApp in the preamble.

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The list of all data collected by WhatsApp

To begin with, WhatsApp reminds that messages, calls, photos, videos and statuses are not accessible to its teams. This information is indeed end-to-end encrypted thanks to the open source cryptographic protocol Signal Protocol, which is also exploited by Signal. However, some information is not encrypted. It’s the case “Your profile picture, your news as well as the names and descriptions of your groups”. WhatsApp can therefore consult this data. In addition, WhatsApp collects a long list of data on Internet users. Here is the list :

  • The general location of your smartphone
  • Phone numbers from your address book
  • The date of creation of the groups
  • The time, frequency and duration of your WhatsApp use
  • The OS of your smartphone
  • Your phone’s battery level
  • The version of the Android or iOS app
  • The name of your browser
  • Your operator’s name
  • IP address
  • Cookies

The application collects in particular precise location information from your device, if you “Decide to share your current location or your live location with your contacts” or if you “Want to display nearby places”. This is obviously optional but in case of refusal, “We use IP addresses and other information, such as area codes for phone numbers, to estimate your general location”. In short, WhatsApp knows no matter what country you are in.

WhatsApp also takes a keen interest in people from your entourage. The app collects “The telephone numbers which appear in the address book of your device”. In addition, WhatsApp takes hold “Also information about the users who contact you, but who are not in the address book of your device, as well as the users that you have blocked or who have blocked you”. The firm also admits to collecting “Information on the creation or update date of WhatsApp groups”.

WhatsApp also automatically draws information related to your messaging usage, such as the time, frequency and duration of your online activities. Messaging thus monitors “The time and day you sent and received calls and messages”. This time-stamping system allows you to draw up a complete overview of your habits on the application.

The subsidiary of Meta does not hide from collect information about the device you use to log into your WhatsApp account. The company knows in particular your operating system (Android or iOS), the battery level, the version of the app installed, the name of your web browser, your telecommunications operator or the IP address. More worryingly, WhatsApp reserves the right to seize “Information about activities on the device”, without specifying which data is included in this point.

WhatsApp admits to collecting cookies from your smartphone

Finally, WhatsApp collects cookies from your smartphone. These files placed by a server on a terminal hold a great deal of information on the sites consulted by Internet users. To justify the collection of this information, WhatsApp assures that it needs this data to improve and run its services.

With this update of its policy, WhatsApp responds to the latest scandals concerning respect for the privacy of its users. Recently, instant messaging has indeed been accused of violating Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). A few months earlier, an update to the WhatsApp privacy policy sparked controversy. Messaging reserves the right to share certain data with Facebook. After months of controversy, WhatsApp has finally chosen to calm things down by postponing the implementation of these changes.

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