State Attorneys General: Google intentionally concealed that they had access to WhatsApp backups to grow Google Drive

Gandalf_The_Grey

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Since 2015, WhatsApp users have been able to backup their messages and media to Google Drive.

This was ostensible a private, encrypted backup, but an investigation by the State Attorneys General who are accusing Google of antitrust violations has revealed that Google was intentionally misleading WhatsApp users regarding their privacy.

While a 2015 Google blog post on the WhatsApp+Google partnership noted “WhatsApp for Android lets you create a private backup of your chat history, voice messages, photos, and videos in Google Drive,” a 2016 internal memo expressed an opposite view.

Google also hid that the information was actually stored in plain text on the user’s Google Drive by not giving them direct access to the stored data with an internal Google memo noting that Google was “opaquely” backing up users’ WhatsApp communications to Google Drive.

Google of course never revealed that they had full access to WhatsApp user’s data and the Attorneys General notes that Google Drive’s terms of service at the time even allowed them to sell ads against the information contained there.