Page 8 - EngineerIt January 2021
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                                                                                    In the wake of Facebook’s acquisition
        WhatsApp, a misconceived                                                 of WhatsApp in 2014, Telegram
                                                                                 exponentially grew in popularity,
                                                                                 purportedly due to its security and
        menace to society?                                                       privacy features. Even though Telegram
                                                                                 offers encryption on messages and other
                                                                                 information, it is not enabled by default
                                                                                 – like that of WhatsApp. The only way to
                                                                                 use E2E encryption on Telegram is to
        by Ahmore Burger-Smidt, Director and Head of Data Privacy Practice and
                                                                                 use its “secret chats” feature. In addition,
        member of Competition Law Practice; and Dale Adams, Candidate Legal
                                                                                 the “secret chats” feature is only
        Practitioner and Associate Designate, Werksmans Attorneys.
                                                                                 available for “chats” between two users.
                                                                                 In theory therefore, Telegram has access
                                                                                 to your messages which are not covered
        “By tapping Agree, you accept the new terms and privacy                  by the veil of “secret chats” and they
        policy, which takes effect on 8 February 2021. After this date,          store this for 12 months.
                                                                                    Based on the above high-level
         you’ll need to accept these updates to continue using                   comparison of the security features
        WhatsApp. You can also visit the Help Centre if you would                utilised by WhatsApp and Telegram, it
                                                                                 could be argued that WhatsApp’s security
        prefer to delete your account or would like more information.”           and privacy is more robust and secure
                                                                                 than that of Telegram, especially in that
                                                                                 E2E encryption is a default feature.
                ith these simple words, the Facebook-owned
                messaging giant, WhatsApp, sparked a public outcry               So what personal information does
        Wconcerning the recent update to its terms and privacy                   Telegram have access to? In the
        policy. The privacy policy update relates to how it processes the        Telegram privacy policy, it is stated
        data of users, how businesses can utilise Facebook services to           that Telegram processes, amongst
        store their (business) chats and who partners with Facebook to           other things, the following set of
        offer integration across all Facebook products.                          personal information:
           Users’ voiced displeasure about the app’s changed policies            •  basic account data such as user
        are rife and social media relating to personal data/information being misused is increasing.  mobile number, profile name, profile
        Telegram users are also increasing by the minute! Is this switch justified? What is the exact  picture and about information;
        situation about the changes to WhatsApp and how concerned should people be?  •  user email addresses; and
                                                                                 •  user messages in cloud chats
        WhatsApp security and privacy                                               such as messages, photos,
        WhatsApp is the largest messaging service in the world with over two billion monthly active  videos and documents.
        users. Since its origins in 2009, WhatsApp has prided itself on its commitment to security
        and privacy with encrypted conversations and other important technologies integrated into  The above information goes further than
        the app. This is demonstrated by WhatsApp’s latest privacy policy dated February 2021  the sets of personal information that
        which, amongst others, states that:                                      WhatsApp has access to, and processes
           “Your messages. We do not retain your messages in the ordinary course of  on behalf of its users. WhatsApp by
           providing our services to you. Instead, your messages are stored on your device  default provides E2E encryption.
           and not typically stored on our servers. Once your messages are delivered, they
           are deleted from our servers. “                                       Signal security and privacy
                                                                                 Several experts and users are
        In addition to the above, the WhatsApp privacy policy states that WhatsApp and other  encouraging people to move to Signal.
        third parties cannot read the messages of its users due to the built-in end-to-end  Signal Messenger LLP, a US based and
        encryption (“E2E“). Also, WhatsApp cannot decrypt the contents of a user’s profile  established social messaging platform,
        contents, those being messages, calls and photos. This means that WhatsApp does not  is considered the best alternative to both
        store personal information.                                              WhatsApp and Telegram from a security
           What WhatsApp has access to is metadata, IP addresses, profile pictures,  and privacy perspective.
        status updates and user contact information. Whilst metadata does not       Like WhatsApp, Signal makes use
        allow anyone to read a user’s messages, it allows for transparency       of the open-source Signal Protocol to
        as to who and when a user messaged someone and for how long.             implement E2E encryption for
                                                                                 communication. However, whilst
        Telegram security and privacy                                            WhatsApp encrypts messages and
        Telegram, an entity originally established in Russia with the aim        calls (which is sufficient for most
        of providing secure messaging, is the second largest messaging           users), Signal goes a step further and
        service in the world with over 400 million users.                        encrypts metadata as well.

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