Tag Archive: WhatsApp



Facebook is gearing up to make money from WhatsApp, the messaging service used by more than a billion people every day

WhatsApp will be testing new features to make it easier for people to communicate with businesses they want to reach on WhatsApp, the messaging service said in a blog post.

“We’re building and testing new tools via a free WhatsApp Business app for small companies and an enterprise solution for bigger companies operating at a large scale with a global base of customers, like airlines, e-commerce sites, and banks,” according to the blog post.

WhatsApp has already started a pilot program that would feature a green badge next to a business contact, indicating that the business was verified by the messaging service.

“We do intend on charging businesses in the future,” Chief Operating Officer Matt Idema told the Wall Street Journal in an interview.

Reuters had reported in March that a potential revenue source for WhatsApp was to charge businesses that want to contact customers, citing company documents.

Started in 2009, WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook for an eye-popping $22 billion in 2014. While WhatsApp had little revenue at the time of the deal, the purchase price was slightly more than the market value of Sony Corp.

Facebook has not focused on WhatsApp so far. The social network had started showing ads inside its Messenger app in July to further monetise the chat service.

Idema declined to describe the paid features or say when they would make their debut, according to the WSJ report. “We don’t have the details of monetisation figured out,” he told the Journal.

” We’ll be listening carefully to feedback during our test phase and keeping people informed as we make these tools more widely available,” WhatsApp said in the blog post.

 

 

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)

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WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging platforms in the world and Windows Phone is one of the least popular platforms supported by the app. However, the latest version 2.17.234 update of the beta app for the platform has hinted at some crucial changes that are coming to WhatsApp very soon. The Facebook-owned app will reportedly get some business-friendly features that will allow businesses and consumers to interact with each other via the platform.

The latest update of WhatsApp for Windows Phone disallows users to add a “check mark” symbol in front of their name in the app, as pointed out in a report by MSPoweruser. While on surface it might not appear to be a big deal, it is being speculated to have been done in order to avoid confusion regarding the authenticity of the businesses in the future.

As per a report by WABeta Info, which has a history of providing credible information regarding upcoming WhatsApp updates, WhatsApp will be verifying business accounts with a check mark, much like the one on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, to provide them certain amount of authenticity while dealing with their customers.

WhatsApp has reportedly been planning to introduce a separate app for businesses, called WhatsApp Small and Medium Business, which will be required to be installed by the businesses to contact their customers. Notably, the report suggests that users will not be required to install a separate app and will receive communication from businesses on their regular app. However, they will get the option to prevent communication selectively from certain businesses or all businesses within the app.

As per WABetaInfo, the communication between businesses and the consumers will further be supported with the support for “Structured Messages” that contain text, image, action items, and the translation of the message. There are said to be certain restrictions on the businesses regarding length and nature of their name and even unverified business can use the app to reach its customers. Additionally, businesses will get a feature called “Public Announcement” that will allow them to pass on official announcements to their users.

 

 

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


After much negative feedback from users over the removal of the old Status feature, WhatsApp has decided to bring it back. The old WhatsApp Text Status feature was first seen in the ‘About’ section on Android beta, and now WhatsApp has officially confirmed its arrival.

The Facebook-owned IM app told TechCrunch that the old Status feature will be revived. In fact, all WhatsApp users on Android will get the feature over the next week and iPhone users will get it soon as well.

“We heard from our users that people missed the ability to set a persistent text-only update in their profile, so we’ve integrated this feature into the ‘About’ section in profile settings. Now, the update will appear next to profile names anytime you view contacts, such as when creating a new chat or looking at Group info. At the same time, we’re continuing to build on the new Status feature that gives people fun and engaging ways to share photos, videos and GIFs with their friends and family throughout their day,” the company issued a statement to the publication.
This WhatsApp Text Status feature will work just in the same way as it was seen on Android beta version 2.17.95. Users will be able to set a text WhatsApp Status in the ‘About’ section which will change only when you want it to. Your contact list will be able to see the Status message by opening your contact, when starting a new chat thread, or viewing group info.

In any case, the new WhatsApp Status stories feature isn’t going anywhere and will remain a constant in a separate tab. You can add photos and videos that disappear in 24 hours, just like Snapchat. The tab also lists all the new updates from your contacts in the same format as you see on Snapchat. Unfortunately, there’s no way (yet) to disable this WhatsApp feature completely.

Facebook also introduced a similar feature on its Messenger service, named ‘Messenger Day’. This feature also lets you post photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours, but it’s a little more invasive than WhatsApp as it changes a lot of the interface behaviour jarring people’s habitual patterns.

 

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


The European Union is set to extend some security rules currently only applicable to telecom operators to web services such as WhatsApp, Skype and Apple Inc’s FaceTime, according to a draft proposal seen by Reuters.


The European Commission, the EU executive, will unveil a proposed reform of its 15-year-old telecom rules next week in which it will extend some provisions to web companies offering calls and messages over the Internet, so-called “over the top players.”

Telecom companies such as Vodafone, Orange and Deutsche Telekom have long complained that web groups including Alphabet Inc’s Google, Microsoft and Facebook are more lightly regulated despite offering similar services and have called for the EU’s telecoms-specific rules to be repealed.

Under the draft directive, over the top services will have to ensure the security and integrity of their services, including reporting breaches to authorities and having contingency plans and service continuity strategies.

The proposal is part of a broader drive to level the playing field between European companies and mainly US tech firms.

However the proposal does allow for some of the security obligations to be lighter for services which like, for example, WhatsApp, do not exercise control over the transmission of their services over telecom networks.

“Providers of such services should thus ensure a level of security commensurate with the degree of risk posed to the security of the communications services they provide,” the document says.

“Therefore, whenever it is justified by the actual assessment of the security risks involved, the security requirements … should be lighter.”

Companies will be required to notify national authorities “without undue delay” of a security breach which has a significant impact on the operation of their service.

The Commission has previously said it was considering extending some security obligations to web services given their increasing equivalence to traditional phone calls and text messages.

Over the top services using a number or allowing users to call a number, such as Skype Out and messaging app Viber Out, will also have to offer emergency calls under the new rules.

The Commission will propose giving all European consumers the right to affordable basic broadband, which will enable them to check emails and access online banking, meaning national governments will have to provide public money to ensure universal coverage.

The proposal will need to be approved by the European Parliament and EU member states before becoming law, meaning it is likely to undergo changes.

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


A court in Brazil on Thursday blocked BRL 19.5 million ($6.07 million or roughly Rs. 40 crores) in Facebook Inc funds after the US-based social networking company’s WhatsApp messaging service failed to turn over messages sought in a drugs case, the G1 news service said.

An illustration photo shows the Whatsapp application logo on a mobile phone in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, May 2, 2016. REUTERS/Nacho Doce

Brazil’s federal police said WhatsApp has defied repeated orders to turn over messages sent and received by suspected members of an international cocaine smuggling ring that has been under investigation since January.

Without the data, it will be difficult or impossible to prove links between those captured in recent raids and their confederates in Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay and Spain, G1 reported, citing the police.

After repeated failure over five months to turn over the information, a judge in Brazil’s southern Parana state froze the funds, which are equal to WhatsApp’s accumulated fines for non-compliance in the case, G1 said.

Because WhatsApp has no bank accounts in Brazil, the judge froze funds owned by its parent, Facebook, the article said.

The Brazilian court, though, did not use provisions of Brazil’s Internet law that allows courts to shut down service in some cases of non-compliance with court orders.

A similar case earlier this year prompted a judge to shut WhatsApp down for 72 hours, angering many of the service’s 100 million Brazilian users. The shutdown was lifted after about 24 hours by another court.

At the time of that blockage, Facebook said WhatsApp does not store client messages and could not read them if they did because they are encrypted.

 

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


Facebook is reportedly planning to bring end-to-end encryption to its standalone Messenger app. The social giant may soon start offering users option to choose from added privacy or improved artificial intelligence (AI).

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The Guardian citing three people close to the project reports that Facebook in the coming months is planning to add an ‘opt-in’ encrypted communication mode in its Messenger app.

If this comes out to be true, Messenger won’t be Facebook’s first product to receive end-to-end encryption as WhatsApp introduced that extra privacy feature earlier this year. WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption enabled only the sender and the receiver to read what is sent, and nobody in between, not even WhatsApp.

The report however says that Facebook will keep it an ‘opt-in’ option in Messenger because it will be a tradeoff for improved artificial learning which is also planned to be added in coming months. Facebook at its developer conference in April had revealed that it wants to add new features to Messenger app where a ‘bot’ could read out a piece of news from a source.

The report quoted a Facebook spokesman who declined to comment on the rumours, and said, “We don’t comment on rumour or speculation.”

We can expect Facebook’s move to add end-to-end encryption to meet backlash similar to how Google’s Allo chat app received response from people. Soon after Allo release, security experts including Edward Snowden realised that the end-to-end encryption was not turned on by default. To recall, Google’s new Allo chat app has an Incognito mode which has end-to-end encryption and discreet notifications.

Following the footsteps of WhatsApp bringing end-to-end encryption to all its messages, messaging app Viber rolled out the same to its users in April.

 
Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


Google has announced a new messaging app with strong encryption, meaning that your communications can’t be wiretapped. But there’s a catch: You have to turn on that feature yourself.

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The tech titan’s plan to launch Allo this summer without encryption by default has drawn withering criticism from some quarters.

Google’s decision to disable end-to-end encryption by default in its new #Allo chat app is dangerous, and makes it unsafe,” Edward Snowden tweeted. “Avoid it for now.”

But other privacy advocates are more positive.

“I, too, would prefer that Allo be encrypted by default,” said Kevin Bankston, director of New America’s Open Technology Institute. But, he added, “all in all, this is going to be a net increase in the amount of encrypted messaging out in the world. And that is ultimately a good thing.”

With Allo’s debut, Google is taking a step toward joining the growing number of tech firms embracing “end-to-end” encryption, which protects the privacy of text messages and voice and video calls in such a way that even with a warrant, the government can’t access them. But by requiring users to turn on the feature, Google is lowering the odds that average users will avail themselves of the option, critics such as Snowden say.

Apple’s iMessage launched in 2011 with strong default encryption. WhatsApp, Facebook’s messaging app, last month announced it had full, end-to-end encryption by default on all platforms – including Android, iPhone and BlackBerry. Apple also launched its video call FaceTime feature in 2010 with default strong encryption. That means that even when served with a warrant, these firms cannot provide law enforcement access to WhatsApp and iMessage chats.

FBI Director James B. Comey has endorsed the benefits of encryption. “I love strong encryption,” he said in a speech last month. But, he said, “what’s changed in the last few years is that it’s now become the default, covering wide swaths of our lives and covering wide swaths of law enforcement’s responsibilities.” He has called for a balancing of privacy and public safety needs in which firms maintain a way – usually with a key – to get the government access to the communications it seeks.

So Google’s move on balance is welcome, said one law enforcement official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the issue on the record. “Having this as an opt-in feature is certainly useful to us.”

Google designed Allo without default encryption to make it easier to mesh the chat app with Google Assistant, a new conversation bot that can hold natural-sounding discussions with users, a Google spokesman said. It’s a competitor to Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and the many bots created for Facebook’s Messenger app. Assistant is designed to tap into Google’s wealth of data about users to provide tailored recommendations, from the best movies to see to the quickest route to the theater.

Because Google may need to run queries made of Assistant on its own servers, the official said, it’s not feasible to offer end-to-end encryption by default. Users who opt to use the encrypted “Incognito” mode may thus lack some Assistant features, he said.

Some tech experts said it is possible to combine strong encryption with the artificial intelligence bot feature. “There’s always a way,” said Morey Haber, vice president of technology at the cyber-security firm BeyondTrust. Smartphones, for example, could do some of the processing on the device. But, he said, it would be difficult to fully process queries to Assistant without the power of Google’s remote servers, which would need to see the unencrypted queries. “I don’t think the technology is there yet,” Haber said.

The company said that even the standard chat mode conforms with standard encryption practices; messages between Google and users will be encrypted, but the Google Assistant system will have access to what users are sending.

Still, the company’s decision to forgo default encryption has raised questions – even internally.

A Google engineer wrote in a personal blog post Thursday obliquely criticized the lack of default encryption. “If incognito mode with end-to-end encryption . . . is so useful, why isn’t it the default in Allo?” Thai Duong wrote. He also said he would push for “a setting where users can opt out of cleartext [unencrypted] messaging.” Both lines were quietly removed later that evening from his post, with Duong adding a note that he erased a paragraph “because it’s not cool to publicly discuss or to speculate the intent or future plans for the features of my employer’s products.”

Google declined to comment on whether it pressured Duong to edit his post.

Christopher Soghoian, American Civil Liberties Union principal technologist, said by making the encryption feature an opt-in, “Google gets the maximum press value out of the encryption tech while guaranteeing that it is used by as few people as possible.”

Google, he said, “has given the FBI exactly what top officials have been asking for.”

Bankston said the opt-in will depend on how easy the firm makes it to do so. “That,” he said, “will turn a lot on the design.”

 
Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


The next frontier in the battle between the FBI and technology companies over encrypted communications will be more legally complicated – and messy – than trying to get into the iPhone of a dead terrorist.

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Messaging tools like Facebook’s WhatsApp and Internet services that automatically encrypt the content of texts, phone calls and other data while they’re being sent are increasingly becoming a problem for national security and criminal investigations, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Capturing that data while it’s in transit is essential, the agency says. Not so fast, say privacy advocates. Not even possible, say the companies.

“We’re kind of all waiting for the next big test case,” said Andrew Crocker, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, which is suing the Justice Department over whether the government has ever used secret court orders to force technology companies to decrypt the private communications of their customers.

And while legal strategies are plotted in the US, the threat of encrypted applications isn’t theoretical. Supporters of Islamic State and al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula have already found alternatives to US-based apps, potentially limiting intelligence gathering on terrorist plots after a year in which scores were killed in attacks in Paris, Brussels and San Bernardino, California.

Although the FBI found workarounds for two high-profile cases involving data on locked iPhones, law enforcement agencies confront unique legal challenges to compel companies to provide access to encrypted communications, including laws written more than two decades ago when the Internet was just emerging. And as players in the debate stake out their positions, the results of new cases are likely to define the rules for digital rights for several decades.

“This is the new frontier and it is a much more expansive frontier in terms of its effect on law enforcement investigations,” said Edward McAndrew, a former federal prosecutor who’s now a partner with the law firm Ballard Spahr.

While the FBI and other law enforcement agencies can seek court orders compelling companies to comply with wiretap orders, at least two issues make it harder for agencies to get the data they’re seeking in cases that are likely to come:

– Investigators say they have been left behind by rapid advances in technology. In order to intercept the content of communications being sent in real-time, investigators have to use laws that limit their reach, such as the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act.

– The ability to protect information with encryption, which scrambles data using a secret code that can be unlocked only with a special key known solely to the user, means companies may not even be able to provide law enforcement the data sent on their networks or through their applications.

WhatsApp on April 5 finished giving its users encryption by default as well as complete control over the keys for all its messaging services, including photos, phone calls and group chats, said spokesman Matt Steinfeld. Apple Inc. said it began offering full end-to-end encryption for its iMessage platform and FaceTime video service about five years ago.

WhatsApp’s encryption arose as an issue in Brazil this month, when a judge shut down the service for a day for not making data available to law enforcement. Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg called the move against WhatsApp, which has more than 1 billion subscribers worldwide, frightening.

“The idea that everyone in Brazil can be denied the freedom to communicate the way they want is very scary in a democracy,” Zuckerberg said in a May 3 blog post.

In the United States the FBI showed its willingness to bring a legal case over encryption when it served Apple with a court order in February compelling the company to help access the data stored on an iPhone used by Syed Rizwan Farook, who with his wife carried out a deadly December attack in San Bernardino, California. The bureau ultimately backed down in March when it bought a hacking tool to get into the phone without Apple’s help.

The government has a weaker legal argument when it comes to requiring a company to provide access to encrypted “data in motion” as it travels over the Internet than it does in demanding “data at rest” stored on a device, said Marc Zwillinger, a former federal cybercrime prosecutor.

The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act doesn’t cover many Internet services and expressly states that a telecommunications provider can’t be responsible for decrypting any communication if it doesn’t possess the information necessary to do so, said Zwillinger, a managing member of ZwillGen who often represents technology companies, including Apple in the San Bernardino case.

Even if the government succeeded in getting a company to break encryption, users could move to another encrypted messaging service located outside the U.S., said Peter Toren, a former federal computer crimes prosecutor and now a partner with the law firm Weisbrod Matteis & Copley.

“The FBI certainly has no jurisdiction, nor ability, to extract information from providers that are outside the United States,” Toren said. “Technology is changing the game.”

One such application is Telegram, which lets users build message groups of as many as 200 people and has been favored by Islamic State and al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, according to a report by the Middle East Media Research Institute. While Telegram has blocked public message channels used by Islamic State, it has said it won’t limit encrypted private messages, which can self-destruct on a timer.

Sometimes the only way to obtain the content of communications is when it’s in transit because companies don’t retain it on their servers, according to the FBI.

In a limited number of cases, even encrypted information can be useful to the bureau. The agency might find a way to decrypt it at a later time, or combine it by using other investigative techniques to pursue a case. But the agency says there’s no substitute for having the content of communications.

“As you see WhatsApp, Viber and others moving to what they’re calling end-to-end encryption for messaging, that all but guarantees the government, at least through its criminal investigative authorities, would not be able to intercept that content,” said McAndrew.

If the FBI concludes it needs access to such data, “the court system is not going to be the proper place to resolve it,” Zwillinger said.

Toren and McAndrew said the best solution would be for Congress to update laws governing wiretaps and access to data.

Amid the impasse, the problems for law enforcement keep mounting.

From July to December last year, law enforcement agencies requested information for 5,192 Apple accounts, according to the company’s latest transparency report. The company said it provided some data in response to 82 percent of government requests. The report doesn’t specify how many of the requests were wiretap orders.

US officials fear more companies will “develop and market easy-to-use, seamless, end-to-end encryption,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said in a May 5 letter to Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat.

“This means that law enforcement and national security personnel are losing access to the one area that we care about the most – the content of communications of violent criminals and terrorists,” according to the letter from Deirdre Walsh, the intelligence office’s director of legislative affairs.

Groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation say they worry, however, that agencies might try to use the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that oversees spying in an effort to compel a company to decrypt data in motion without the public knowing.

“The real worry from the privacy and advocacy community is that it would be happening behind closed doors, under seal and in secret,” Crocker said. “That’s not going to set a good legal precedent.”

 
Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


Indian security agencies are unable to decrypt some of the communication on platforms like WhatsApp to readable formats for various reasons such as technical as well as legal and regulatory policy, Parliament was informed Friday.

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“Security/law enforcement agencies face difficulty while dealing with encrypted communications by various application service providers including end to end encrypted communication message provided by WhatsApp,” Communications and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in a written reply to Rajya Sabha.

He added that such applications make use of encryption technology and proprietary authentication protocols to secure messages.

“However, security agencies are able to intercept these encrypted communication services through the lawful interception facilities provided by the telecom service providers,” he said.

Prasad said mobile applications like WhatsApp have extraordinary reach, particularly in the field of information sharing and dissemination and these services are mostly availed by the citizens across the world throughout Internet.

“…but they (security agencies) are not able to decrypt some of encrypted intercepted communication to readable format as there are multifarious aspects involved in security/law enforcement agencies getting such encrypted communication in readable format such as technical, international relationship, legal and regulatory policy, commercial and security requirements etc,” he added.

The government, he said, regularly interacts with telecom service providers and other stakeholders, including social media providers to address the issues and implement the solution to resolve the issues arising from time to time to the extent possible keeping in view security, service and developmental needs of the country.

Recently, Facebook-owned WhatsApp introduced end-to-end encryption for all its services, meaning that the messages can now be read only by the intended recipients.

“Encryption is one of the most important tools, governments, companies and individuals have to promote safety and security in the new digital age. Recently there has been a lot of discussion about encrypted services and the work of law enforcement,” WhatsApp, which has more than a billion users, said in a blog post.

It added that while it recognises the important work of law enforcement in keeping people safe, “efforts to weaken encryption risk exposing peoples information to abuse from cybercriminals, hackers, and rogue states”.

Following WhatsApp, another messaging platform Viber also introduced end-to-end encryption of messages.

 
Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)


Google Inc Wednesday told the Delhi High Court it has not earned any revenue out of the agreement with the government or any other monetary benefit from content uploaded on the YouTube platform under the deal.

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The company also told a bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva that petitioner K N Govindacharya has “failed to establish that the content provided by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting under the agreement has been monetized by Google Inc”.

“Any allegation in this regard is absolutely denied as being unfounded and baseless.

“…based on verification of records maintained by Google Ireland in relation to agreement and made available to its parent entity i.e. Google Inc, that Google has not monetized the content owned and uploaded by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on the YouTube platform under the agreement,” Google Inc, the parent company of Google Ireland which operates YouTube, in its affidavit said.

Google Inc’s submission was opposed by advocate Virag Gupta, representing former BJP leader Govindacharya, saying the court in its March 14 order had directed for clear cut affidavit on the line, which Google India had filed.

Earlier, Google India Pvt Ltd had submitted that it has not earned any revenue out of the agreement with the Centre.

The court recorded the statement of Google Inc that it did earn any revenue or any other monitory benefit out of the agreement with the government and disposed of the petition.

Earlier, the Centre had told the court that it has no “customised agreements” with Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp.

There are no customised agreements with YouTube (Google) either, except the one (with Google Ireland/ YouTube) mentioned above”.

These submissions were made by the authorities concerned on a PIL filed by Govindacharya raising questions on social media usage by the government.

On January 27, the government had filed the content licence agreement entered into with Google Ireland in 2013 regarding content put up on YouTube.

The petitioner had said the social networking sites are not paying due taxes on their Indian operations as per provisions of double taxation avoidance agreement and the government is not taking any action to safeguard the national interest and sovereignty of India.

The petition had also said social networking sites should be directed to ensure verification of all existing and future users and refrain from allowing access to children below 13 years, which against law.

 
Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)