In WhatsApp, chats aren’t being deleted even after you have deleted, cleared, or archived them. In fact, the only way to get rid of them appears to be, is to delete the app entirely according to a post published by iOS researcher Jonathan Zdziarski. WhatsApp isn’t completely secure as it retains and stores chat logs even after the chats has been deleted or archived.
In his blog-post, Zdziarski adds that, just to be clear, WhatsApp is deleting the record (they don’t appear to be trying to intentionally preserve data), however the record itself is not being purged or erased from the database, leaving a forensic artifact that can be recovered and reconstructed back into its original form.
Simply preserving deleted data on a secure device is not usually a significant issue, but when that data comes off the device as freely as WhatsApp’s database does, it poses a rather serious risk to privacy. Unfortunately, that’s what’s happening here and why this is something users should be aware of.
WhatsApp was applauded by many privacy advocates for switching to default end-to-end encryption through the Signal protocol, a process that completed this April. But that system only protects data in transit, preventing carriers and other intermediaries from spying on conversations as they travel across the network.
WhatsApp is currently struggling over encryption policy in Brazil. WhatsApp has weathered numerous blackout orders from local courts over its refusal to turn over court ordered chat logs in an ongoing case. The company has repeatedly claimed that it cannot turn over the logs as a result of WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption systems.
It therefore means that even deleted conversations on WhatsApp, can now easily be obtained is requested by legal authorities or by the government through a meager court order. So, think twice if you can actually get rid off chats you don’t want in your phone.