February 26, 2021

What We Learned From Apple’s New Privacy Labels

The labels immediately made it clear that WhatsApp taps far more of our data than Signal does. When I asked the companies about this, Signal said it made an effort to take less information.

For group chats, the WhatsApp privacy label showed that the app has access to user content, which includes group chat names and group profile photos. Signal, which does not do this, said it had designed a complex group chat system that encrypts the contents of a conversation, including the people participating in the chat and their avatars.

For people’s contacts, the WhatsApp privacy label showed that the app can get access to our contacts list; Signal does not. With WhatsApp, you have the option to upload your address book to the company’s servers so it can help you find your friends and family who are also using the app. But on Signal, the contacts list is stored on your phone, and the company cannot tap it.

“In some instances it’s more difficult to not collect data,” Moxie Marlinspike, the founder of Signal, said. “We have gone to greater lengths to design and build technology that doesn’t have access.”

A WhatsApp spokeswoman referred to the company’s website explaining its privacy label. The website said WhatsApp could gain access to user content to prevent abuse and to bar people who might have violated laws.

I then took a close look at the privacy label for a seemingly innocuous app: MyQ from Chamberlain, a company that sells garage door openers. The MyQ app works with a $40 hub that connects with a Wi-Fi router so you can open and close your garage door remotely.

Here’s what the label says about the data the app collected. Warning: It’s long.

Article source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/27/technology/personaltech/apple-privacy-labels.html

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