Facebook-owned WhatsApp has reinforced its message privacy options. It has added an option for users to encrypt their message backups. This adds a security layer to private WhatsApp communications.
WhatsApp messages use end-to-end encryption by default. And this has become its main selling point amid concerns of data trails and privacy.
Soon, it will include historical data.
“People can already back up their WhatsApp message history via cloud-based services like Google Drive and iCloud. WhatsApp does not have access to these backups, and they are secured by the individual cloud-based storage services. But now, if people choose to enable end-to-end encrypted (E2EE) backups, neither WhatsApp nor the backup service provider will be able to access their backup or their backup encryption key,” says WhatsApp.
The update did not breach the app’s established data privacy approach, though. It was limited to messaging between individuals and businesses in WhatsApp.
Still, the reaction drew enough attention that WhatsApp delayed the change to explain better.
The need to reinforce
WhatsApp needed a new feature to reinforce its privacy. The new update highlights that no one can access its users’ private messages, even those within WhatsApp.
Message backup encryption may not have value for regular users.
But TechCrunch says access to WhatsApp chat data through third-party has been the only way for government to peer into the WhatsApp network.
“Tapping these unencrypted WhatsApp chat backups on Google and Apple servers is one of the widely known ways law enforcement agencies across the globe have for years been able to access WhatsApp chats of suspect individuals,” writes TechCrunch.
The current backup options depend on third-party providers. And this reduces overall WhatsApp chat security. Facebook wants to close this loophole.
Governments and watchdogs will likely raise their opposition to Facebook further closing the doors on its messaging systems.
Law enforcement agencies have called for Facebook to give them backdoor access for authorized inquiries. But Facebook will not have any of it.
The social network’s response pushed authorities to tap into third-party backups. Then again, Facebook found out and has moved to cut this off also.
A key concern on this is the possible use of the platform by child traffickers and not get detected. With full encryption of all its messaging apps, Facebook will hide all messaging by predators.
Still, most netizens have been looking for full options to protect their private communications from watchdogs and other prying eyes.