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.
The Facebook owned messaging service with over a billion users worldwide, continuing with Silicon Valley’s battle with authorities after Apple recently refused to back down in light of the FBI’s request to unlock an encrypted iPhone used by the perpetrator in the 2015 San Bernardino gun attack, has today announced that they have competed a technical development which means all calls made and message, photo, video, voice mail and file sent to either an individual or as part of a group chat will be fully encrypted end-to-end which means not even WhatsApp themselves will be able to see the content.
Reading between the lines metadata (when the message was sent, who the recipient was, where the message was sent from) will still be accessible to lawful requests from authorities.
In another twist this week, US Senator Richard Burr, chairman of the Senate intelligence committee, said he planned to soon unveil legislation that would regulate encrypted communications, so it looks like this will run and run as the game of cat and mouse between technology companies and the authorities seems far from over.