WhatsApp Encrypts Messages For All Its Users

4 years, 11 months ago - April 06, 2016
Instant messaging service WhatsApp is seeking to reassure its users about their privacy by encrypting all messages sent via its app.

In a blog post written by WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum on Tuesday, Koum explains that every conversation on the messaging service, whether it be a private or group chat, will have full end-to-end encryption, thus making the recipient the only person who can see the message.

"No one can see inside that message. Not cybercriminals. Not hackers. Not oppressive regimes. Not even us," writes Koum, in his blog on the WhatsApp website.

"End-to-end encryption helps make communication via WhatsApp private – sort of like a face-to-face conversation," said Koum.

The WhatsApp website explains that end-to-end encryption works by securing messages with a lock, which only the recipient and sender are able to unlock and read with a special key. For added protection, every message sent has its own unique lock and key. All of this happens automatically- even WhatsApp cannot read any messages.

WhatsApp's announcement comes in the wake of one of the most high-profile clashes in the debate over encryption and data privacy between the government and a technology company. In February, the FBI asked Apple to unlock one of the San Bernardino shooters' iPhones so authorities could access his data.

Apple refused, stating a breach of privacy; the FBI took Apple to court but was eventually able to unlock the phone without Apple's help. It dropped the suit. 

The case, however, stirred national debate over whether it would set a precedent for authorities to unlock other phones in the future, and the question of privacy.

"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," wrote Koum.

WhatApp messaging service was bought by Facebook for a staggering $19 billion in 2014 and counts over one billion users globally.

 

Text by CNBC

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