WhatsApp co-founder and CEO Jan Koum went on the offensive today to address concerns that the messaging app's upcoming acquisition by Facebook will lead to its users losing their privacy. In a blog post, Koum said, "Our fundamental values and beliefs will not change. Our principles will not change."
Non-profit privacy groups have already sent requests to the Federal Trade Commission asking that the agency block the $19 billion purchase of WhatsApp by Facebook, claiming that the privacy of the app's many users would be at risk under the ownership of Facebook. However, Koum's blog post said nothing could be further from the truth.
He stated that growing up as part of the Soviet Union in the 1980s, there was always a fear that the KGB was monitoring phone conversations. That experience helped to form the privacy rules that WhatsApp adopted. Koum said:
You don’t have to give us your name and we don’t ask for your email address. We don’t know your birthday. We don’t know your home address. We don’t know where you work. We don’t know your likes, what you search for on the internet or collect your GPS location. None of that data has ever been collected and stored by WhatsApp, and we really have no plans to change that.
Koum said that if the company felt that they would have to compromise those values by being purchased by Facebook, the deal would have never been made. He added, "Speculation to the contrary isn’t just baseless and unfounded, it’s irresponsible."