Tech

Emergency tips from the experts: 4. Data protection for chat apps






Online fraud, virus attack or robbery in banking: when such an emergency occurs, you usually need help from experts. We asked four specialists how they should react correctly in an emergency or, better still, prevent them.

The fourth part is about data protection in chat apps. Because Whatsapp wanted to change its data protection rules in February. After numerous protests, the changes were postponed to mid-May. We can recommend Threema to anyone who would like to take the upcoming changes as an opportunity to change their chat app. The app is trimmed for the highest possible level of data protection. We spoke to Roman Flepp, press officer at Threema.

Roman Flepp, press spokesman at Threema

PC WORLD:

Whatsapp’s announcement that it wanted to collect more data from its users prompted some users to switch to their chat app. Has Threema been able to benefit from this development since the beginning of 2021?

Flepp:

We are pleased that the subject of privacy and data protection has come back into the public eye. For years we have noticed an increase in users who are turning away from data collectors and are looking for a data protection-friendly solution. The trend is now accelerated by the current controversy and we think it will have a lasting impact on our user numbers.

NewsABC.nets at Threema have been going through the roof since the beginning of the year. We’ve added hundreds of thousands of new users in the last month. The growth has leveled off at a high level, which we are particularly pleased about.

PC WORLD:

What are the arguments in favor of users switching to Threema and not to the currently popular signal?

Flepp:

We can proudly say that no other messenger offers the same high level of security and data economy as Threema. Only Threema can, for example, be used completely without specifying personal data such as a mobile phone number. And only Threema operates its own servers in Europe, while our competitors leave their users’ data to the Amazon and / or Google cloud. A comprehensive comparison is available here: https://threema.ch/de/messenger-vergleich.

PC WORLD:

Another topic: How do you assess the resolution of the “Council of the EU”, in which, under the title “Security through encryption and security despite encryption”, ways of breaking the encryption, for example in chat apps, are to be sought?

Flepp:

Switzerland is not a member of the EU. Authorities of the EU or of EU countries have no legal authority in this country. The aforementioned resolution of the EU Council of Ministers is also a recommendation for the attention of the EU Commission and not a law. Threema’s cryptography allows neither a “master key” nor a “breaking” of the encryption, because the end-to-end encryption is applied by the user, not by Threema as the service provider. So we can’t make the chats readable at all – and that’s a good thing.

In addition, Threema is open source. Changes are closely monitored accordingly.

Criminals, however, will always find a way to communicate confidentially with accomplices. It is naive for authorities to believe that compromising everyone’s privacy will improve security. The opposite is the case: Citizens would be deliberately exposed to dangers, because experience has shown that every weak point can be used by fraudsters within a very short time. In the case of weaknesses deliberately brought about by government action, it will be no different.

PC WORLD:

Has a government agency ever approached Threema with the request to disclose the encryption for individual Threema users or even for all?

Flepp:

No.

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