[Cryptography] Whisper app tracks ‘anonymous’ users

John Denker jsd at av8n.com
Thu Oct 16 23:53:37 EDT 2014

In case you missed it:

The Whisper app is a product of WhisperText LLC.
On the GooglePlay store it claims:

> Whisper is an anonymous social network that allows people to express
> themselves, connect with like-minded individuals, and discover the
> unseen world around us. With Whisper, you can anonymously share your
> thoughts and emotions with the world, and form lasting and meaningful
> relationships in a community built around trust and honesty. If you
> have ever had something too intimate to share on traditional social
> networks, simply share it on Whisper

Now there is a long, detailed article:
  Paul Lewis and Dominic Rushe
  "Revealed: how Whisper app tracks ‘anonymous’ users"
  The Guardian, 16 October 2014 11.35 EDT

Apparently Whisper's notion of "anonymous" means they don't 
overtly ask for your name.  They do however capture and
store all of your messages.  By default they also capture
and store your GPS location.  If you opt out of "location
tracking" they track your location anyway, using IP
location and perhaps other means;  I don't know if they
use cell tower triangulation.

If you post something sufficiently provocative, they have
staffers who undertake to track you "for the rest of your

Also, the firm has cozy relationships with FBI, DoD, and 
news organizations.

You can read the story:

My thoughts:

Evidently "anonymity" is not the same as privacy.  AFAICT
using Whisper is like running around in public all day every 
day, naked except for a tag that says "Hello, my name is 

I wonder how many of the folks who signed up for the service
were aware of this.

I wonder how many other "free" apps play by the same rules.

Does anybody have any suggestions for how to prevent this
sort of thing?

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