Monday June 17, 2019
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Irish Watchdog Warns Facebook Integration with WhatsApp

WhatsApp's end-to-end encryption -- the hallmark of users' security -- may also go for a toss if Facebook integrates the popular mobile messaging platform with not-that-secure Instagram and Messenger

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Facebook, data, vietnam
This photo shows a Facebook app icon on a smartphone in New York. VOA

The Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) has warned Facebook over its planned integration of its chat services — WhatsApp, Messenger and photo-sharing app Instagram, asking the social media giant to provide it with an “urgent briefing” on the proposals.

In a statement, the Dublin-headquartered Irish watchdog said it understood the plan was at a “very early conceptual stage”.

“While we understand that Facebook’s proposal to integrate the Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram platforms is at a very early conceptual stage of development, the Irish DPC has asked Facebook Ireland for an urgent briefing on what is being proposed,” the watchdog said in a statement late on Monday.

“The Irish DPC will be very closely scrutinising Facebook’s plans as they develop, particularly insofar as they involve the sharing and merging of personal data between different Facebook companies,” it added.

The New York Times reported on January 25 that all of the three Facebook apps will support end-to-end encryption but the company was yet to provide a timeline for when this will happen.

Messenger and Instagram would continue to operate as stand-alone apps.

WhatsApp
WhatsApp on a smartphone device.

According to the Irish watchdog, “previous proposals to share data between Facebook companies have given rise to significant data protection concerns and the Irish DPC will be seeking early assurances that all such concerns will be fully taken into account by Facebook in further developing this proposal”.

“It must be emphasised that ultimately the proposed integration can only occur in the EU if it is capable of meeting all of the requirements of the GDPR,” the statement read.

The move could let the social networking giant tout higher user engagement to advertisers, thus, ramping up its advertising division at a time when overall growth has slowed down.

Also Read- After Facebook, Google Disables App That Collects Users’ Data: Report

Facebook has the most users of any other social media platform, and by combining its assets this way, the company could more directly compete with Apple’s iMessage and Google’s messaging services, according to The Verge.

WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption — the hallmark of users’ security — may also go for a toss if Facebook integrates the popular mobile messaging platform with not-that-secure Instagram and Messenger. (IANS)

  • Arthur Bizdikian

    What is the main issue if all of Facebooks companies share and merge data amongst one another ? They already indirectly do that

Next Story

No one Would Buy a Huawei Smartphone Sans Google or Facebook

Despite all this, there is no respite seen for Huawei in the near future and the company is likely to witness its smartphone business dwindle

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facebook, huawei
FILE - A member of the media tries out new Huawei Honor 20 series of phones following their global launch in London, UK, May 21, 2019. VOA

By Nishant Arora

Be honest and ask yourself: Would you buy a smartphone that neither supports Android operating system and Google apps nor comes pre-installed with Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram? This is the scenario which Huawei (and its sub-brand Honor) smartphones stare at in the near future – and an imminent fall if the issue does not get resolved in the next one-two quarters.

Although the Chinese communications giant aims to launch its own operating system called “Hongmeng” to replace the Android OS on its smartphones but ‘abhi Dilli door hai’ as the OS has to see the light of the day and then users’ approval, which is the most critical part.

The absence of apps like Facebook or WhatsApp that truly define user experiences is a double whammy for Huawei.

Currently the second largest smartphone player in the world (powered by stupendous growth in non-US regions like Europe and Asia), Huawei has sensed the tough road ahead. A recent report in Nikkei Asian Review claimed that Huawei has “downgraded its forecast for total smartphone shipments in the second half of 2019 by about 20 per cent to 30 per cent from the previous estimate”.

According to Navkendar Singh, Research Director, Devices and Ecosystem, India and South Asia, IDC, almost half of Huawei’s smartphone volumes come from outside China with its wide smartphone portfolio which runs on Android with Google Mobile Services (GMS) – a collection of Google applications and application programming interfaces (APIs) that help support functionality across devices.

“China has its own ecosystem of apps which are hugely popular but only in China. Outside it, almost all popular Android apps are from Google or from US-based companies. These apps are the heart of experience of any smartphone user these days,” Singh told IANS.

“Without these apps present on its own OS, it will be very very tough for Huawei to pull in demand for its phones running on its own OS,” he added.

Sandwiched between the ongoing US-China trade war, Chinese telecom equipment major Huawei is frantically looking to salvage its prestige and fast cover the lost ground.

The company is also looking at the Indian smartphone market which has touched 450 million smartphone users and has a great potential to grow.

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Huawei smartphones are seen in front of displayed Google Play logo in this illustration picture, May 20, 2019. VOA

“In India, they have never been really able to scale up to be a major player. But considering the growth potential in India, the decision by Google and Facebook has put a spanner in the Huawei’s possible aggressive plans for the country as the next growth market in next two-three years outside of China,” Singh told IANS.

Huawei pipped Apple as the second largest smartphone seller in the first quarter of 2019 after Samsung. It clocked 17 per cent market share in the global smartphone market, according to Counterpoint Research.

The Chinese tech giant, meanwhile, has denied reports that it has cut down smartphone manufacturing.

The company, however, is reassessing its target to become the world’s top-selling smartphone vendor by 2020, after the US trade ban was put in place.

On May 15, US President Donald Trump effectively banned Huawei with a national security order.

Huawei has filed a motion in a US court challenging the constitutionality of the US President Donald Trump’s order to ban it.

Also Read- Samsung Galaxy M40 Tech Review: Stunning Display, Better Chipset

According to reports, Google has also discussed with the US government about an exemption from the Huawei ban, saying it is bad for the company’s technology business.

Despite all this, there is no respite seen for Huawei in the near future and the company is likely to witness its smartphone business dwindle.

Unless, a miracle happens. (IANS)