WhatsApp, the popular cross-platform mobile messaging application owned by Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), boosted its privacy protection for users with end-to-end encryption.
The company made the move in the wake of the legal battle between Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) over the encryption of the iPhone used by one of the shooters in San Bernardino, California.
WhatsApp together with Open Whisper Systems has been working on developing a full end-to-end encryption for its service over the past two years. Starting today, every message, photo, video file and voice message sent by its users as well as group chats are end-to-end encrypted by default.
WhatsApp end-to-end encryption is on by default
In a blog post, WhatsApp co-founders Brian Acton and Jan Koum, said, “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.”
WhatsApp is among the few communication platforms that built end-to-end encryption and set it on by default for users. Acton and Koum said one of their primary principles of the company is to protect people’s private communication.
According to Koum, protecting private communications is personal for him because he was born and grew up in USSR where people couldn’t speak freely during the communist rule.
The co-founders of WhatsApp also noted the recent discussions regarding encrypted devices and the work of law enforcement. According to them, they “recognize the important work of law enforcement in keeping people safe and the efforts to weaken encryption risk exposing people’s information to abuse from cybercriminals, hackers, and rogue states.
“Every day we see stories about sensitive records being improperly accessed or stolen. And if nothing is done, more of people’s digital information and communication will be vulnerable to attack in the years to come. Fortunately, end-to-end encryption protects us from these vulnerabilities,” said Alton and Koum.
In February 2015, a judge in Brazil issued a suspension order on the operations of WhatsApp in the country due to its failure to cooperate in an investigation in case linked to a “sexually graphic photos of children” on the app.