Check how secure, private and open an app is

Surfing through the Net in search of a objective review of an application can be a daunting task, and even when you find one, it usually barely touches the issues of security or privacy.

Enter WhatApp, a wiki page where you can rate and read reviews of Web and social network applications, browsers, add-ons and mobile platforms – reviews that will not tell you if an app is cool or not, but will tell you how secure, private and open it is.

The WhatApp wiki is the brainchild of Stanford’s Center for Internet and Society academics and is funded by the Rose Foundation, which supports different projects that – among other things – promote consumer protection and civic participation.

In the teams’ own words: “We want WhatApp to be a useful tool for both savvy Internet experts and novices to pool resources and share insights about the privacy features of a wide variety of applications, including Facebook and iPhone Apps, office suites, online maps, toolbars, and media players. The project’s aim is to fill the current market gap between consumer demand for privacy friendly applications and anti-privacy practices employed by the developers and thereby to foster better privacy practices Net-wide.”

You must register (as a user, expert or developer) to rate an application, but you don’t have to do so if you just want to see the ratings it already has. Of course, you can’t register as an expert or a developer just by choosing to do so – the decision of whether you are or aren’t lies with Stanford’s CIS team.

The answers you provide to the nine questions you are be asked when rating an application, will be used to form a rating of the privacy, security and openness of said application.

The page is actually quite simple and easily navigable and usable – search for the app you want to check out or browse the list of already reviewed apps:

The main page also contains two boxes that feature “good” and “bad” apps (of the week? Month?). Currently, the Featured App is BugMeNot, a service that allows you to bypass compulsory registration to various sites and services by offering bogus data. RockYou Live is in the Penalty Box, for getting hacked and revealing (unencrypted) user data.

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