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Whisper App, Guardian Newspaper Trade Barbs on Anonymity

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 19, 2014 5:58 am    Post subject: Whisper App, Guardian Newspaper Trade Barbs on Anonymity Reply with quote

The anonymous messaging app Whisper has lashed out at the Guardian newspaper, denying allegations that it secretly tracked users and shared data with the US government.

"A pack of vicious lies," was the first Twitter response by Whisper's Neetzan Zimmerman late Thursday to the Guardian article, which maintained, among other things, that Whisper was tracking users even when they opted out of geolocation.

The Guardian also reported that Whisper is sharing its data with the US Department of Defense from smartphones used on military bases, and developing a version of its app to conform with Chinese censorship laws.

"The Guardian made a mistake posting that story and they will regret it," Zimmerman, Whisper's editor-in-chief, said in a tweet.Zimmerman later released a point-by-point rebuttal to the Guardian's article.

"Whisper does not collect nor store any personally identifiable information from users and is anonymous," the response said.

"The privacy of our users is not violated in any of the circumstances suggested in the Guardian story."

Whisper also categorically denied secret tracking or sharing information with any government, except to comply with legal orders.

It did say it had worked with unnamed organizations to respond to military messages about suicide, and sometimes deals with threats of violence.

"Whisper is not a place to make violent or child-endangering threats, and we will proactively notify law enforcement in order to protect our users and the public," the message said.

(Also See: Snapchat Weaves Ads Into Ephemeral Message Service)

The statement said Whisper had not launched in China but noted that "we ... comply with the same local laws and regulations as other US-based technology companies that operate internationally do."

The Guardian on Friday said it stood by its article.

The British daily said that a careful analysis showed that Whisper still tracks approximate locations through a phone's IP address even if it is not using GPS or geolocation.

The newspaper also said Whisper rewrote its terms of service on storing data after learning the Guardian planned to publish its stories.

The Guardian said its reporting was based on a visit to the company's Los Angeles headquarters to explore the possibility of an expanded journalistic relationship with Whisper.

Whisper, one of a series of apps that allows people to send messages anonymously, has been increasingly used by journalists to communicate with sources.

SAP Consulting
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