What’s up with WhatsApp?

WhatsApp recently updated its privacy policy and added a blue read receipt tick in it’s latest app release – this upgrade is more than just a new feature. It triggered the question amongst our users what to expect from Chiemo in the future. Here is what we have to say:

” … Although the Chiemo Social Messenger is still in beta release we at Chiemo, Inc. despise any attempts to compromise consumer’s privacy. We believe instant communication, whether based on voice or text messaging is vital in the digital age, however, privacy protection is priceless and can never be compromised.

By storing and/or displaying when a message has been read it allows individuals and/or vendors to analyze user behavior and this clearly constitutes a privacy violation according to Chiemo’s “absolute privacy” commitment.

The first tick is needed to let users know that a message has been sent. The second tick confirms delivery on the receiver’s device. The second tick serves the same purpose as the delivery confirmation when sending a package with an express courier service. Chiemo is providing sent and delivered confirmation as well.

WhatsApp’s blue third read receipt tick is neither needed nor desirable since it allows the system to analyze user behavior and is considered a serious privacy violation according to Chiemo’s irrevocable privacy protection rules.

We at Chiemo not only have a strict privacy policy in place today, we incorporated an irrevocable non-negotiable commitment in our corporate culture not to cross a particular line when it comes to users privacy, and the line is when some or all users knowingly or unknowingly are made uncomfortable.

In order to ensure “Absolute Privacy” Chiemo is relying on an independent group of users for privacy protection assessments who have to approve a new app release first before it can get published.

Chiemo calls this irrevocable commitment to privacy protection “Stupid by Design …”

Chiemo thrives to become the most trusted consumer and enterprise messenger of choice – trust is earned – we are Charlie Chiemo.

ignore button on a computer keyboard keys

Personally, I never liked the the „read“ confirmation in emails. Fortunately I am asked if I want to share this information and I always click it away. It’s nobodies business when I opened my emails. It’s annoying when you get asked what took you so long, you read my mail already 2 hours ago. Actually it is more than just annoying, it feels like my privacy has been violated.

Here some thoughts:

Let’s assume you are still using voice mail. Somebody just left you a voice message. This somebody will receives a notification when you retrieved the recording and is expecting you to call back right away – annoying.

You send a holiday present to a loved one. Sent and delivered confirmation are very helpful, but do you really need to know when the gift box has been opened?

You have put really yummy stuff in the lunch box of your child. How cool would it be to actually know when your little one opened the box and ate the strawberries. Cool for you but annoying for your child. Humans are no objects that should be tracked like a letter in the mail, regardless whether teenagers or grown ups we all need our private space and have the right to privacy.

When it comes to privacy the line between right and wrong is very thin. We have usually crossed the line when consumers feel uncomfortable with the situation, regardless whether they officially complain or not. We usually only talk about the Right to Privacy when it has been compromised.  Privacy is like water – expected to be clean and clear – we take it for granted and only realize its value after it turned dirty.

Ignorance is privacy violators best friend

… that’s what we have put on Chiemo’s website for a good reason. Vendors with advertisement based business models are continuously trying to expand their analytics footprint when it comes to collecting and analyzing user data in order to increase targeted advertisement revenues. Their business model is based on the assumption that although users don’t like this kind of spying initially they will ignore the potential danger, get used to it and most importantly continue to use the service.

Users across the globe have clearly expressed that they don’t want WhatsApp’s blue read receipt feature. It needs to be seen yet if users elect thank you but no thank you at some point.

Ignorance and procrastination are very powerful tools in marketing and are based on a known human weakness – convenience beats rational thinking – ruthless politicians all over the world have abused this weakness very successfully for centuries to make citizens accept an environment they actually don’t like. Here is the challenge for all companies that collect sensitive data in the future – Why shouldn’t I spy on users and monetize the data although I have to assume to get away with it?

Why don’t we just lift the vail of ignorance?

We at Chiemo believe in absolute privacy as opposed to relative privacy. Absolute privacy is like a law in criminal justice where there is a line that cannot be crossed no matter what, and the attempt to cross this line might already constitute a crime. Whereas relative privacy is when society accepts that the threshold for privacy protection will slowly deteriorate. It’s a moving target, an evolutionary process. Every attempt to soften privacy protection users will lower their expectation of privacy, although they might not like it initially. It’s a constant cat-and-mouse game.

How does Chiemo ensure „absolute privacy“?

We are committed to „Stupid by Design“, a rule that cannot be broken or bended, it’s irrevocable and non-negotiable. In our lingo „Stupid by Design“ simply means that we don’t apply any „intelligence“ („Business Intelligence“, Big Data analytics) when it comes to analyzing or sharing user data. That’s the line we will never ever cross – it is set in stone, no matter how „intelligent“ other messengers are in what they do.

Is Chiemo’s „absolute privacy“ commitment too inflexible? Is relative privacy protection good enough?

Will we mutate into an environment where we have to accept that our private data and user behavior will be increasingly more monetized or will somebody put their foot down and draw a line that cannot be crossed?

A high caliber Social Networking executive recently stated in an interview: „Users can be trained like rats, they have a high pain tolerance, they accept any environment eventually“

When is enough, enough?