Snapchat's T&Cs update could put user data at risk

Snapchat's amended terms and conditions have come under fire, after they stated the company now has the rights to reproduce, modify and republish photos uploaded to its live stream feature, saving them to the social network's servers if it wishes.

"You grant Snapchat a world-wide, perpetual, royalty-free, sublicensable, and transferable license to host, store, use, display, reproduce, modify, adapt, edit, publish, create derivative works from, publicly perform, broadcast, distribute, syndicate, promote, exhibit, and publicly display that content in any form and in any and all media or distribution methods," the Terms of Service were changed to read.

Unsurprisingly, this caused a public uproar with users and privacy groups criticising the changes in policy.

"With the recent changes to Snapchat's terms and conditions, the company has signaled its turn away from simply offering an app that gives people the possibility to secretly send pictures to friends," David Emm, Principle Security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab commented.

"They now grant themselves the right to store, process and sell those pictures. This may seem to be a logical step in terms of revenue generation, but is a rather debatable move from a privacy and data security perspective."

He explained app users should seriously consider what the new terms and conditions mean for their privacy - after all, it's essentially giving the company permission to do as they like with your photos, including selling them.

Facebook retracted similar terms and conditions back in February year following pressure from users and the EU data protection officials. The new terms and conditions granted the company permission to share data with a number of third-party apps including Instagram.

"As a customer you do not have the possibility of tracking where, when and by whom your pictures are accessed and used. This can lead to a serious breach of your privacy, Emm continued. "We would reiterate what we always say about pictures on the internet: think about what you are posting before you do so because you may not have any control over what happens to those pics."

However, following the news that is was updating its terms and conditions, Snapchat released a statement clarifying any pictures sent to friends will remain to be private.

"The important point is that Snapchat is not - and never has been - stockpiling your private snaps or chats," the company wrote in a blog post.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.