WhatsApp have contacted Echo Publications this afternoon after we published a story earlier today regarding missing backpacker Théo Hayez.
WhatsApp Messenger is a freeware, cross-platform messaging and Voice over IP (VoIP) service owned by Facebook. Lisa Hayez, the cousin of Théo made a public plea for the company to work with police.
A spokesperson for the company contacted Echonetdaily by email. ‘WhatsApp cares deeply about the safety of our users and our hearts go out to Théo Hayez and his family,’ said the WhatsApp spokesperson.
‘We understand the important work being carried out by law enforcement and are assisting them in accordance with applicable law and our terms of service.” – WhatsApp spokesperson
‘In this case, we have provided information to international law enforcement officials,’ they said. ‘While we can’t access encrypted conversations, end-to-end encrypted platforms do have some limited information about users that they collect in order to provide their service.
WhatsApp has published Information for Law Enforcement Authorities that outlines the kinds of information they can disclose when they receive a valid legal request. ‘This may include (if available): name, service start date, last seen date, IP address, email address, profile photo, numbers blocking or blocked by the user or other basic subscriber information about the account, not including the contents of communication.’
WhatsApp respond to government requests for data in accordance with applicable law and their terms of service. ‘We publish regular reports to give our community visibility into how we respond to these requests and the strict policies and processes we have in place to handle them.
‘Each and every request we receive is carefully reviewed for legal sufficiency and we may reject or require greater specificity on requests that appear overly broad or vague.
In the six months to December 2018, Facebook Inc received 899 Legal Process Requests and 38 Emergency requests in Australia — they provided some data for 69% of these requests.