WhatsApp, the instant messaging app, announced an end-to-end encryption of its users’ communications. This means the company will not be able to provide information to governments, even if it tried.
The announcement came following the legal episode between Apple Inc. and the US justice Department. Apple was asked to help the FBI unlock the iPhone of a San Bernardino shooter so that it can obtain data from the device.
The end-to-end encryption scrambles up the messages as soon as they leave the sender’s device and can only be decrypted by the recipient’s device. This prevents the messages from being intercepted in between.
WhatsApp said it will also encrypt voice calls and file transfers. The company, which has a billion users worldwide, said protecting users’ communication is one of its major priorities.
“The idea is simple: when you send a message, the only person who can read it is the person or group chat that you send that message to. No one can see inside that message. Not cybercriminals. Not hackers. Not oppressive regimes. Not even us,” WhatsApp said in a statement, as quoted by the BBC.
It also made allusions to the ongoing debate on whether tech companies should use such security measures.
“Recently there has been a lot of discussion about encrypted services and the work of law enforcement,” it said, as quoted by the Independent. “While we recognize the important work of law enforcement in keeping people safe, efforts to weaken encryption risk exposing people’s information to abuse from cyber criminals, hackers, and rogue states.”
The move ensures that private conversations will not be used for the purpose of advertising. It was one of the major concerns of many, when the company was taken over by Facebook in 2014.
WhatsApp added that it expects that this form of encryption will also be used in other services in the future.