WhatsApp calls Apple’s new privacy nutrition labels for iOS 14 anti-competitive

Posted on Dec 10, 2020 by Caleb Chen
WhatsApp protests Apple's new privacy nutrition labels for iOS 14

Facebook’s WhatsApp is publicly protesting Apple’s privacy nutrition labels, calling the privacy labels “anti-competitive.” WhatsApp wishes its iOS users to know that the messaging app isn’t as privacy violating as it may seem based on the labels. WhatsApp has turned in the privacy nutrition labels to Apple – but also published a blogpost to lay out all the details of what information WhatsApp tracks in a hope to provide more detailed information than the privacy nutrition label.

WhatsApp protests new privacy nutrition labels on multiple fronts

The crux of WhatsApp’s “privacy nutrition labels are anticompetitive” argument is that Apple preinstalls iMessage, which means pretty much all users won’t ever see iMessage’s privacy nutrition label – even though Apple does provide it. A WhatsApp spokesperson told Axios:

“We think labels should be consistent across first and third party apps as well as reflect the strong measures apps may take to protect people’s private information. While providing people with easy to read information is a good start, we believe it’s important people can compare these ‘privacy nutrition’ labels from apps they download with apps that come pre-installed, like iMessage.”

On Apple’s end, they have emphasized that privacy nutrition label information will be available even for preinstalled apps like iMessage.

WhatsApp is also upset that the privacy nutrition labels are too broad, and is essentially worried that those looking at the privacy nutrition label for WhatsApp might be put off by the seemingly large amount of information that WhatsApp is collecting. A spokesperson from WhatsApp told Axios:

“Our teams have submitted our privacy labels to Apple but Apple’s template does not shed light on the lengths apps may go to protect sensitive information. While WhatsApp cannot see people’s messages or precise location, we’re stuck using the same broad labels with apps that do.”

WhatsApp is worried that the privacy nutrition labels will “spook” users and give first party apps like iMessage a competitive edge over WhatsApp – and hopes to even the playing field with their protest.