WhatsApp has announced it has completed the massive encryption program initiated earlier, which makes every message or call made via the app to be fully end-to-end encrypted. The Facebook-owned company also stated the encryption process is all encompassing in that the messages are off bound for even its own employees, let alone hackers or cyber criminals.
Of course, the above assumes added significance amidst the growing tiff between authorities and tech companies over security and privacy issues. WhatsApp also ruled out a scenario where it might be forced to hand over user’s data to the authorities under any circumstances claiming that such a possibility simply does not exist whatsoever. All data in their servers are just scrambled messages which will appear meaningful to only the intended recipient and none else.
“The desire to protect people’s private communication is one of the core beliefs we have at WhatsApp, and for me, it’s personal,” wrote Ukrainian-born WhatsApp founder Jan Koum in a blog post. “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.”
WhatsApp’s adoption of advanced encryption technologies also comes at a time when the FBI and Apple engaged in a mega showdown over privacy and security issues and which should prevail over the other and in what scenarios. While the court case ended abruptly with the FBI managing to gain entry into the iPhone 5C belonging to one of the terrorists in the San Bernardino case without Apple’s help, the security vs. privacy debate remains wide open.
In fact, things seem to be heading towards an epic showdown of sorts in the coming days with the authorities looking to create a legal framework that would make it binding for companies to share user data if considered necessary towards discharging of official duties such as in cases about national security and such.
However, at the other end of the spectrum are the tech companies that have made it clear of their commitment to ensuring user’s privacy at all costs come what may. The coming together of more than a dozen companies, some even rivals, in open and unconditional support to Apple is a clear proof of their desire to pursue privacy.
Senator Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence though has said he would be pushing for legislation that would seek to establish regulation over encrypted communications.