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Amid Data Privacy Scandal, WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum Quits Facebook

WhatsApp CEO quits Facebook over 'data privacy' concerns

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WhatsApp phases out support for older iOS versions. Pixabay
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 In a jolt to Facebook, WhatsApp co-founder and CEO Jan Koum has decided to move on amid reports that he had a difference of opinion with parent company Facebook over data privacy, encryption and other issues.

Koum announced his exit from WhatsApp immediately after The Washington Post on Monday reported his plans to depart “after clashing with its parent, Facebook, over the popular messaging service’s strategy and Facebook’s attempts to use its personal data and weaken its encryption”.

“I’m leaving at a time when people are using WhatsApp in more ways than I could have imagined. The team is stronger than ever and it’ll continue to do amazing things,” Koum said in a Facebook post on Tuesday.

Also Read: This creepy app uses WhatsApp data to let users ‘spy’

“I’m taking some time off to do things I enjoy outside of technology, such as collecting rare air-cooled Porsches, working on my cars and playing ultimate frisbee. And I’ll still be cheering WhatsApp on – just from the outside. Thanks to everyone who has made this journey possible,” he added.

According to the report, Koum who sold WhatsApp to Facebook for more than $19 billion in 2014, “also plans to step down from Facebook’s board of directors”.

“The independence and protection of its users’ data is a core tenet of WhatsApp that Koum and his co-founder, Brian Acton, promised to preserve when they sold their tiny start-up to Facebook,” the report added.

Facebook's logo
Facebook. Pixabay

Koum further said in his post that “It’s been almost a decade since Brian and I started WhatsApp, and it’s been an amazing journey with some of the best people.

“But it is time for me to move on. I’ve been blessed to work with such an incredibly small team and see how a crazy amount of focus can produce an app used by so many people all over the world,” he added.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg quickly replied via a post: “I will miss working so closely with you. I’m grateful for everything you’ve done to help connect the world, and for everything you’ve taught me, including about encryption and its ability to take power from centralised systems and put it back in people’s hands”.

According to Tech Crunch, One possible candidate for the new WhatsApp CEO role would be its top business executive Neeraj Arora.

Arora has been WhatsApp since 2011 — well before the Facebook acquisition.

Also Read: Facebook: WhatsApp Business App Has Over 3mn Users

With 1.5 billion monthly users, WhatsApp is the biggest mobile messaging service in the world. Over 3 million people are actively using WhatsApp Business app.

After the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, Facebook has warned investors that more users’ data scandals in the future may adversely affect the social networking giant’s reputation and brand image.

In its quarterly report shared with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), without mentioning Cambridge Analytica, Facebook said that its ongoing investments in safety, security and content review will identify additional instances of misuse of user data.

“We may also be notified of such incidents or activity via the media or other third parties,” Facebook said.

Appearing before the US Congress, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told the lawmakers that his own personal data was part of 87 million users’ that was “improperly shared” with the British political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica.  IANS

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The European Union Warns Facebook Over Consumer’s Data Usage

Facebook said it has already updated its terms of service in May to incorporate changes recommended at that point by EU authorities.

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Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Facebook logo in this picture illustration. VOA

The European Union’s consumer protection chief said Thursday she’s growing impatient with Facebook’s efforts to improve transparency with users about their data, warning it could face sanctions for not complying.

EU Consumer Commissioner Vera Jourova turned up the pressure on the social media giant, saying she wants the company to update its terms of service and expects to see its proposed changes by mid-October so they can take effect in December.

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European Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova attends an interview with Reuters at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. VOA

“I will not hide that I am becoming rather impatient because we have been in dialogue with Facebook almost two years and I really want to see, not the progress — it’s not enough for me — but I want to see the results,” Jourova said.

The EU wants Facebook to give users more information about how their data is used and how it works with third party makers of apps, games and quizzes.

“If we do not see the progress the sanctions will have to come,” she said. She didn’t specify punishment, saying they would be applied by individual countries. “I was quite clear we cannot negotiate forever, we just want to see the result.”

The EU has been pressing the U.S. tech company to look at what changes it needs to make to better protect consumers and this year Facebook has had to adapt to new EU data protection rules. The concerns took on greater urgency after the Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal erupted, in which data on 87 million Facebook users was allegedly improperly harvested.

Jourova said she hopes Facebook will take more responsibility for its nearly 380 million European users.

“We want Facebook to be absolutely clear to its users about how their service operates and makes money,” she said.

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An advertisement in The New York Times is displayed on Sunday, March 25, 2018, in New York. Facebook’s CEO apologized for the Cambridge Analytica scandal with ads in multiple U.S. and British newspapers. VOA

Facebook said it has already updated its terms of service in May to incorporate changes recommended at that point by EU authorities.

The company said it “will continue our close cooperation to understand any further concerns and make appropriate updates.”

Jourova also said U.S.-based property rental site Airbnb has agreed to clarify its pricing system in response to complaints that it could mislead consumers.

Airbnb has promised to be fully transparent by either including extra fees in the total price for a booking quoted on its website or notifying users that they might apply, she said.

 

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U.S.-based property rental site Airbnb has agreed to clarify its pricing system in response to complaints that it could mislead consumers. Flickr

The company is complying with EU demands spurred by concerns that consumers could be confused by its complicated pricing structure, which could add unexpected costs such as cleaning charges at the end of a holiday.

Airbnb is also changing its terms of service to make it clear that travelers can sue their host if they suffer personal harm or other damages. That’s in response to complaints that its booking system can leave tourists stranded if the rental is canceled when all other arrangements have been already made.

Also Read: EU Regulators Question Online Retailer Amazon’s Data Usage

Airbnb said “guests have always been aware of all fees, including service charges and taxes, before booking listings,” and will work with authorities to make it even clearer. (VOA)