MESSAGING SERVICE WHATSAPP, which has over a billion users, has announced it has encrypted its service.
The service, which is owned by Facebook, is used to send billions of messages daily but some users had feared its lack of encryption made personal data vulnerable.
On the company’s blog today, founders Brian Acton and Jan Koum revealed that end-to-end encryption had been added to the service.
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. End-to-end encryption helps make communication via WhatsApp private – sort of like a face-to-face conversation.
A row about encryption has been raging in the US between Apple and the FBI and services like Telegram and Signal, which sell themselves on their encryption, have surged in popularity.
The encryption will be added to any group where at least one member has the newest version of the app and will kick in across operating platforms and devices.
Koum says that while the company respects the job done by law enforcement, the right to privacy was too important to ignore.
The desire to protect people’s private communication is one of the core beliefs we have at WhatsApp, and for me, it’s personal. I grew up in the USSR during communist rule and the fact that people couldn’t speak freely is one of the reasons my family moved to the United States.
“Today more than a billion people are using WhatsApp to stay in touch with their friends and family all over the world. And now, every single one of those people can talk freely and securely.”