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[liberationtech] Fwd: [WhatsApp backdoor allows snooping on encrypted messages]

Rich Kulawiec rsk at gsp.org
Sun Jan 15 04:38:55 PST 2017


Who owns WhatsApp?  Facebook.

What is the purpose of Facebook?  Surveillance and data acquisition.
They've spent billions building the infrastructure for it.  They have
expanded the nature and scope of it at every possible opportunity.
They have been caught -- over and over and over again -- lying about it.

So now, suddenly, for no particular reason, they're going to reverse
course, do the exact opposite of what they've always done *and* they're
going to tell the truth about it?  After spending billions to acquire
WhatsApp and all that valuable data?  Yeah.  That's gonna happen.

Quoting from the same story referenced earlier:

	"In August 2015, Facebook announced a change to the privacy
	policy governing WhatsApp that allowed the social network to
	merge data from WhatsApp users and Facebook, including phone
	numbers and app usage, for advertising and development purposes."

And let me quote Dave Burstein's take on this from Dave Farber's IP list:

> I just read both articles twice. I'm not a security expert, but I think I
> see what's happening here.
> 
> I believe the Guardian article was correct in the claim that Facebook
> could, sometimes read some encrypted messages, using a feature included to
> deal with users switching SIM cards, etc.  Depending on security settings,
> the user may not even be aware of the switch. Facebook "cooperates with
> legal government requests."  In England and probably other countries,
> the security agencies can legally request just about anything.
> 
> The Guardian probably was misleading writing "Facebook and others,
> could intercept.  The Guardian shouldn't have called it a "backdoor"
> without qualifying the comment with "for Facebook & Governments."
> 
> It appears that no one could use this without Facebook's help.
> Governments presumably could get Facebook's help.  It would cost Facebooks
> $B's to be shut out of India or Russia, $10's of billions if it prevented
> them from China.  I see no reason to believe Zuckerberg would resist to
> the end that kind of pressure.  Apple wouldn't; they just kicked the New
> York Times out of the App Store in China.  Google might, as evidenced
> by their willingness to exit China.
> 
> Facebook's answer to Gizmodo was so misleading the author should not
> have written the story that way. Facebook denied that this was a way for
> outsiders to crack What'sApp, which wasn't the Guardian's claim.
> But Facebook didn't address the substantive claim in the article, that
> Facebook and the governments it cooperates with can intercept (some,
> sometimes.)

I pointed out much the same thing on this list years ago.  If China
goes to Facebook and says "put in a backdoor or stop doing business here",
Facebook will put in a backdoor.  If Russia goes to Facebook and says
"give us a full data feed or stop doing business here", Facebook will
give them a full data feed.  Of course they will: there's no way they're
going to leave all money on the table.

---rsk



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