WhatsApp, a popular messaging app purchased by social media giant Facebook, will now follow in the steps of other major tech companies and orifice data encryption for its 600 million users, the majority of whom reside outside the United States.
The announcement was made by Open Whispers in the company’s most recent blog post: “Today, we’re excited to publicly announce a partnership with WhatsApp, the most popular messaging app in the world, to incorporate the TextSecure Protocol into their clients and provide end-to-end encryption for their users by default.”
WhatsApp has teamed up with software developer company Open Whisper Systems to offer data encryption for its services only, keeping out the prying eyes of the NSA, federal government, as well as law enforcement and other agencies. The company’s text message data encryption services have already become a part of WhatsApp messages on Android devices.
WhatsApp intends to spread data encryption to its text messaging services on other operating systems (iOS, Windows) but will ensure data encryption over time. “We have a ways to go until all mobile platforms are supported, but we are quickly moving towards a world where all WhatsApp users will get end-to-end decryption by default,” Open Whispers commented in a blog post.
Companies Apple and Google have already announced their intentions to provide data encryption within iOS and Android, respectively. Apple was the first to announce its data encryption program with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, due to Chinese claims that the iPhone was a spy tool for the US government.
Google followed suit, announcing that the company’s latest Android 5.0 Lollipop update would provide data encryption automatically. Google’s Android OS provides data encryption prior to Lollipop, but the feature was optional rather than automatic within Android devices.
FBI Director James Comey has gone on record saying that Apple and other major tech companies are giving terrorists and criminals free reign on the Web, not to mention a huge way of escape with regard to criminal activity that could put innocent lives at risk.
It has been ruled upon in the legal sector in recent days that iPhone passwords and passcodes cannot be obtained by warrant, but fingerprints can be obtained with a warrant — which can then be used to unlock any mobile device, whether iOS, Android, Windows, or privacy device.