WhatsApp announced this week that it has strengthened the encryption of all types of messages on its platform, which is currently used by more than 1 billion people worldwide. The company said that a new update has added end-to-end encryption to its service, which makes communications immune to intrusions.
End-to-end encryption is one of the worst nightmares of intelligence agencies as messaged cannot be intercepted as they are being transmitted from one user to another. According to experts, the technology allows only the sender and recipient to visualize the communication.
In Europe and the U.S., governments have objected to the use of end-to-end encryption over concerns that it would hinder government investigations. In some states authorities even urged tech companies to create the so-called encryption backdoors so that communications can be read by government spies.
WhatsApp argued that the new update is a result of its ongoing efforts of making user data and communications secure. The company explained that every bit of user data including voice call, group chats, text and multimedia messages are now shielded from intrusive eyes since end-to-end encryption works by default.
The company added that end-to-end encryption allows only the participants in a conversation to read messages. The technology makes it impossible for hackers, ‘oppressive regimes,’ cybercriminals, and even the company’s employees to have access to user content.
“End-to-end encryption helps make communication via WhatsApp private – sort of like a face-to-face conversation,”
WhatsApp wrote in a recent blog post.
The tech company also made reference to law enforcement’s requests that tech companies weaken the security of their products. WhatsApp praised state and federal law enforcement agencies for their efforts to keep Americans safe, but it also said that weakening security would only expose the same Americans to attacks from hackers, abusers, and ‘rogue states.’
The recent update is also a sign that the service won’t be used to harvest user data and use that data for advertising purposes. Critics have made such a claim after the messaging app was bought by Facebook a couple of years ago. After the update, WhatsApp will only have access to users’ behavior, not the content of conversations.
The tech giant also expressed its hopes that end-to-end encryption will be adopted by more tech companies. WhatsApp said it believes that the technology is the ‘future of personal communication.’
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