WhatsApp messenger hit by temporary outage

Users in Malaysia and Singapore also complained of WhatsApp being down in those countries. (Reuters)
Updated 03 November 2017
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WhatsApp messenger hit by temporary outage

MUMBAI/SINGAPORE: Facebook’s WhatsApp messenger suffered a temporary outage in India and many other countries, according to reports from multiple users on Facebook and Twitter on Friday.
Users in countries ranging from Brazil and Russia to Vietnam and Myanmar reported on social media that WhatsApp was down in their countries. The extent of the outage and the reasons for it were not immediately known.
’Whatsappdown’ was the top trending item on Twitter in India, which is WhatsApp’s biggest market with about 200 million of its billion-plus users. It was also a top trending item on Twitter in Pakistan, Britain, Germany and many other countries.
Users reported WhatsApp, the world’s most popular messaging service, had begun to gradually function again about 30 minutes after initial complaints of an outage appeared on social media.
Users in Malaysia and Singapore also complained of WhatsApp being down in those countries.
A spokeswoman for Facebook in Singapore said the company was still investigating the matter.
Independent websites monitoring outages of popular social media services via online conversations and Twitter messages report regular outages for WhatsApp, often one every few weeks, but these are typically brief and confined to certain geographies.
WhatsApp has faced similar widespread outages this year, including for several hours in May.
WhatsApp is used by more than 1.2 billion people around the world and is a key tool for communications and commerce in may countries. The service was acquired by Facebook in 2014 for $19 billion.


Reminder: Your smartphone is likely tracking your location

Updated 21 August 2018
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Reminder: Your smartphone is likely tracking your location

  • Most apps now use location tracking, and not just for obvious purposes like maps and transport
  • A study by Yale University found that three quarters of Android apps contained trackers — usually containing advertising

PARIS: A new lawsuit accusing Google of tracking people’s locations against their will has served as a reminder that every movement of most smartphone users is being recorded, often without their knowledge.
The California man who filed the suit claims that the tech behemoth continued to track the whereabouts of Android smartphone users even after they turned off “location history.”
But the history of geolocation and the privacy issues it raises are as old as the mobile phone itself.
Before smartphones arrived more than a decade ago, it was still possible to use geolocation. Mobile phones constantly connect to local antenna towers, and by triangulating the signals the user can be found — as Jeff Goldblum illustrated in the 1996 movie “Independence Day.”
However smartphones brought about a far simpler way to track people: GPS.
After the release of the first iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2007, GPS — Global Positioning System using satellites — became prevalent, and it is now included on all smartphones.
Most apps now use location tracking, and not just for obvious purposes like maps and transport. It’s also used for dating, food delivery and gaming, such as Pokemon Go, which became hugely if briefly popular across the world in 2016.
As the popularity of apps using geolocations grows, so does their money-making potential.
For example, when tourists use their phone to explore, they can be targeted with advertising not just from the country they are in but also the city and even the street they are standing on.
A 2014 study by CNIL, the French government’s techonology consumer protection body, showed that between a quarter to a third of apps had access to the phone’s location.
By 2017, a study by Yale University found that three quarters of Android apps contained trackers — usually containing advertising.
The CNIL study also found that some apps tracked the phone’s location more than a million times over a three-month period — accessing the information about once per minute.
The new Google lawsuit is far from the first time privacy concerns have been raised over geolocation. In 2011 fellow tech giant Apple faced a lawsuit over location tracking on its ubiquitous iPhones and iPads.
And there are also national security concerns.
Last month, researchers found that the fitness app Polar had revealed sensitive data on military and intelligence personnel from 69 countries. The app later disabled the function.
Just months before another health app, Strava, was found to have showed potentially sensitive information about US and allied forces around the world.
But the problem includes apps that don’t even need to track the users’ location.
Some simple flashlight apps have been discovered to have been secretly sharing location information.