The founder of instant messaging service WhatsApp, Jan Koum has slammed “careless and inaccurate” reports that Facebook’s £11bn purchase of the app could see changes to privacy principles.
Koum has written a blog post to reassure WhatsApp customers that their privacy would be taken seriously.
The move follows complaints by privacy campaigners to US regulators over Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp. They have asked for the sale to Facebook to be blocked on the grounds that Facebook has a history of failing to abide by its promises not to use customer data for advertising purposes.
But in his blog, Koum said that “respect for your privacy is coded into our DNA”.
He also said that privacy concerns had been a feature of his childhood in Ukraine in the 1980s. He said: “The fact that we couldn’t speak freely without the fear that our communications would be monitored by KGB is in part why we moved to the United States when I was a teenager.”
He added that he wouldn’t have gone through with the Facebook sale if users were required to provide more information such as email addresses and birthdays – information which could be used for advertising purposes.
“Speculation to the contrary isn’t just baseless and unfounded, it’s irresponsible,” he said.
“It has the effect of scaring people into thinking we’re suddenly collecting all kinds of new data. That’s just not true.”