The dominating smartphone messaging application, Whatsapp (واتساب), is at risk of losing its 450 million users worldwide after numerous governments and security experts released warnings after it was purchased by Facebook on February 19th. Although Whatsapp has had known “security holes” over the years, the majority of fear now comes from the common belief that Facebook will exploit Whatsapp user’s data for commercial use. These data-protection issues are causing educated users such as the German market to look for alternatives. Non-American security-conscious apps such as Threema are expected to absorb all Whatsapp users in the coming years.
Data protection is likely to become an increasingly more important issue for foreign markets. On 15 February German Chancellor Angela Merkel proposed the creation of a European communications network to prevent data from passing through the insecure U.S. This poses a major threat not only to the US’ political cyber hegemony but to US business. Will the private sector allow this to occur? Expect developers and service providers to significantly alter their privacy policies to secure their foreign clientele.