Tuesday saw what has been called a “huge victory for privacy and free speech,” as WhatsApp fully rolled out end-to-end encryption for users of their service.
End-to-end encryption is a method of locking messages that are sent, in such a way that the only person who will be able to view them is the recipient.
It scrambles the data in the message, be it a text message, photo or video, and the recipient phone, using a key (a really long and unique number) will make the data make sense again.
The world is expanding into unknown territories in terms of security, as more and more of our lives move online. There is very little precedent for how we move forward with internet data and what our rights as users are, and recently, it has become a very controversial topic.
It is more than understandable that we would want our data protected from criminals, but this goes hand-in-hand with concealing our data from the law enforcement agencies around the world.
The FBI recently asked Apple to breach security on one of their devices, a request that Apple rebuked. Very close on the heels of that debate, WhatsApp have now made their messages fully secure.
If a law agency demanded of WhatsApp to share some private messages of their users, then they literally would be unable to, because the encryption process stops WhatsApp themselves being able to unscramble the data.
Anyone using the latest version of the app, when messaging someone, will receive a small yellow pop-up letting them know that they are now using a fully encrypted service.
Amnesty International reportedly called the move a “huge victory for privacy and free speech,” adding “Whatsapp’s roll out of the Signal Protocol, providing end to end encryption for its one billion users worldwide, is a major boost for people’s ability to express themselves and communicate without fear.”