The Guardian "Clarifies" Its Whisper Allegations

After making a big stink about the issue last year, The Guardian is "clarifying" some of the accusations it flung in anonymous messaging service Whisper's face. Although The Guardian states that these are just clarifications and that the substance of its original reports remains true, those same clarifications have actually removed much of that substance which has painted Whisper as a villainous agent in the service of Big Brother. Now it seems that Whisper, while still reporting some things to the authorities, might not be so devious after all.

It was a mudslinging drama between The Guardian and Whisper that started when the former published an article October last year. In that and subsequent pieces, The Guardian reported that Whisper actually still tracked its users, using their IP address, even after such users opted out of the location tracking feature. The Guardian also claimed that Whisper would regularly disclose personal information with various suicide prevention groups and government authorities. It also allegedly stored data on servers outside of the US. And lastly, as if to implicitly acknowledge its guilt, Whisper supposedly altered its Terms of Service when it got wind of The Guardian's report.

Now the Guardian is clarifying the facts on all of those points. Although Whisper never denied that it was still able to access user's IP addresses even after opting out of location tracking, for technical and legal reasons, The Guardian now basically admits it might have exaggerated what that might entail. To be more precise, an IP address can only give a very rough and vague location, unless you put too much credence in TV crime procedurals.

As for data sharing and storage, the Guardian clarifies that Whisper does not actually store user's messages, offshore or otherwise. And it does not share private information but only that which it is legally required to do in circumstances where there is a clear and imminent danger to the user's safety or that of others, much like any other company or service provider is required to do. And lastly, The Guardian also concedes that Whisper already had changes to its ToS lined up even before the Guardian published its piece.

So in summary, The Guardian has practically recanted all of its accusation but stubbornly maintains that the substance of its original report still stands. But while it might be easy for The Guardian to mince words to cover up its errors in reporting, the damage has been done, especially for those Whisper employees who have been laid off because of it.

SOURCE: Wall Street Journal