WhatsApp Finishes Rolling Out End-To-End Encryption; Now Covers Group Messages, Media
from the backdoors-salesmen-en-route-to-Congress-as-we-speak dept
More good news on the secure communications front: WhatsApp has finally implemented full end-to-end encryption — for everyone. Late in 2014, WhatsApp began rolling out its end-to-end encryption, but it was limited to one-to-one communications and did not cover messages containing media. Now, it’s everything, including group messages.
This means that if any group of people uses the latest version of WhatsApp—whether that group spans two people or ten—the service will encrypt all messages, phone calls, photos, and videos moving among them. And that’s true on any phone that runs the app, from iPhones to Android phones to Windows phones to old school Nokia flip phones. With end-to-end encryption in place, not even WhatsApp’s employees can read the data that’s sent across its network.
Law enforcement — particularly the Justice Department — can’t be pleased with this full implementation. Even if a warrant is obtained, WhatsApp cannot produce message content in response to these or other court orders. And from what we’ve seen, WhatsApp may be the next target of the FBI and its All Writs wrangling.
While this does have its implications for law enforcement in the US, it will likely have more of an impact in other nations where citizens are protected by fewer privacy-related rights — which is where most of its users are located. Whether or not this will result in more futile arrests of Facebook execs remains to be seen.
As the messaging app’s creators point out, even if you believe your government is basically good, you should still support (and use) encrypted communication options.
The argument can be made: Maybe you want to trust the government, but you shouldn’t because you don’t know where things are going to go in the future.”
As we’ve seen in the aftermath of the Paris and Brussels attacks, governments — including their law enforcement agencies — are often prone to expanding government power and weakening citizens’ rights. It only takes one successful attack to send a nation down previously unimaginable paths. Might as well have your communications protected just in case. And, as for law enforcement’s sudden “lack” of access? It might help to keep in mind that people chatted for hundreds of years without creating permanent records of their conversations and criminals were somehow still arrested and punished.