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WhatsApp Enables Full Encryption, Blocks Government

Facebook FB-owned WhatsApp has enabled end-to-end encryption services in order to protect the privacy of its 1 billion users across the globe.

WhatsApp had been working to get this encryption since 2014. Now the company will be able to encode all messages, photos, videos, group chats and even voice calls so that only the sender and the receiver can access them. The move is to prevent all unwanted parties like cybercrime hackers, terrorists and even some governments from accessing private communication.

WhatsApp said in a blog post that all a user has to do it to update the app to activate these “default” security features. The company has enabled this encryption across all the platforms (Android or iOS). The blog post stated “We live in a world where more of our data is digitized than ever before. Every day we see stories about sensitive records being improperly accessed or stolen.”

However, privacy versus law enforcement has become a much debated topic, thanks to the recent tiff between Apple AAPL and the FBI, which had demanded that Apple create a backdoor to its operating system for helping the government. Apple had refused to compromise the security of its devices. In fact, the company’s decision was backed by a number of big players in Silicon Valley including Facebook, Alphabet GOOGL, Twitter TWTR, Amazon, Microsoft and a number of other institutions as well. In fact, the end of this case came as a shock to many tech companies as the FBI had managed to crack the code without Apple’s aid.

As the WhatsApp blog puts it “Recently there has been a lot of discussion about encrypted services and the work of law enforcement. While we recognize the important work of law enforcement in keeping people safe, efforts to weaken encryption risk exposing people's information to abuse from cybercriminals, hackers and rogue states.”

The end-to-end encryption does effectively secure WhatsApp against any such instance going ahead as the system is so designed.WhatsApp is using an algorithm for encryption, which allows nobody except the sender and receiver to view the message. 

The Apple-FBI case has indeed been an eye-opener for tech companies who are now working to reinforce their encryption standards.

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