WhatsApp, one of the most popular messaging app on Android is sending ‘Cease and Desist’ letters to independent app developers for Android. According to a report by XDA Developers, this is not the first that WhatsApp has sent such legal notices to Android developers but the difference this time is that the claims in the new letters “have a lot less merit.” The report pointed out a legal firm sent the notices to the developers behind “DirectChat”. and “Can’t Talk”. The interesting thing about these two apps is that both these apps don’t use any code that belongs to WhatsApp or even an interface line the WhatsApp service.
The notice asked the developers to remove functionality or face legal action in the form of litigation. The problem here is that both these apps use built-in Android APIs (Application Program Interface), the Notification Listener, and Direct Reply to work. Considering that the developers are not making use of WhatsApp, this puts the legal notice and the demand on a very shaky ground. In fact, WhatsApp should not even send the notice in the first place. The letter incorrectly claims that developers used WhatsApp services, reverse engineered, or extracted code, gained unauthorized access, gathered information about WhatsApp users without their permission, and tried to charge for WhatsApp services.
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The notices have given app developers seven days to comply else they will face a lawsuit. The report pointed out that Can’t Talk developers have already taken the app off from Google Play Store and DirectChat may be looking at changing or removing its WhatsApp integration with the help of Android APIs.
As pointed out in the report, this move is work on part of WhatsApp to send ground-less and factually incorrect legal notices to app developers. It seems like the person writing the legal notice did not consult an app developer or someone who know about how Android apps may function. This is likely to set a scary precedent in the future where big companies and corporations could send legal notices to innocent app developers who are not doing anything wrong on legal and technical grounds.