- A Texas attorney general has accused Google of accessing private WhatsApp data.
- This is a result of the deal Google and Facebook signed years ago, the lawsuit has said.
- However, the lawsuit carries very fewer pieces of evidence to support this accusation.
Google is facing a huge blow in the US over its internet advertising practices. In the state of Texas in the US, an attorney general has announced an antitrust over the company's ad tech that has helped the company allegedly control ad pricing. The case has made several revelations about Google, including a backdoor deal that it made with Facebook. As a part of the deal, Google can access private chats and photos of WhatsApp users soon after Facebook acquired the app.
This is perhaps one of the shocking allegations that the antitrust case has filed against Google. The Texas attorney general has noted that Google and Facebook have been engaged in a long-running conspiracy against WhatsApp users who are entirely unfamiliar that their data is up for grabs to the world's most dominant search engine company. The allegation finds the mention on the 57the page into the complaint, but the evidence to prove this accusation is not worthwhile. This is because of the biggest reason that goes in WhatsApp's favour.
Backdoor deal, really?
WhatsApp's chats and calls are protected by end-to-end encryption, which means that whatever you share with your contacts cannot be read by anyone except the two contacts. Neither WhatsApp nor Facebook can access the private data that WhatsApp users like you and I are sharing on a daily basis. After all, the end-to-end encryption is the main reason why Facebook is unable to fulfil the request of several governments from around the world, including that of India, to create a backdoor for data monitoring.
Now if WhatsApp and Facebook or any other third-party cannot access the chat contents, why the Texas attorney general dragged Google into the conversation about data backdoor deal. The point that this lawsuit makes is about the backup file of WhatsApp chats that are saved to Google Drive. WhatsApp users rely on Google's cloud storage for backing up WhatsApp chats on Android phones. This backup file that harbours all the chats and media is out of end-to-end encryption's extent. But this is an obvious arrangement for WhatsApp users on Android devices. People using WhatsApp can anytime stop backing up their chats on Google Drive.
Backups are not exclusive
The pact between Google and Facebook over cloud backups is not exclusive. WhatsApp uses Apple's iCloud for backup on iPhone devices, which is a result of the strategic partnership between Facebook and Apple. In both cases, users have to initiate the backup on both platforms. This all makes the allegation against Google and Facebook less substantial and not as much blown-up as the attorney general has noted in the lawsuit.
Both Facebook and Google have denied any such deal between them, although they have not provided statements on record given the legal nature of the case. Google has even cited one recent statement from Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai who said that the data stored in Google Drive will "never" be used for advertising. "We don't sell your information to anyone," Pichai said in June, "and we don't use information in apps where you primarily store personal content, such as Gmail, Drive, Calendar and Photos—for advertising purposes, period." This includes everything that you store in your Drive storage.
Factoring in both sides makes the case a lot less sense than it is hyped to. I am not saying that other parts of the lawsuit are baseless because that is something the attorney general will substantiate in court. But as far as the backdoor deal between Google and Facebook is concerned, it is better to leave it at its face value, and wait for the attorney general to produce solid pieces of evidence to prove if such a deal between both tech giants exists, even if the thought of it might put some fear in you about your WhatsApp data.