WhatsApp allows users to encrypt their saved chats, making them unreadable without access to a password or 64-digit encryption key.
Facebook, the owner of the messaging app, said Thursday that some users will be able to fully encrypt messages stored on Google Drive or Apple’s iCloud. The company said it will slowly introduce the feature to people with the latest version of WhatsApp.
This decision comes amid concerns about the security of saved messages. In May, WhatsApp sued the Indian government over new computer laws that include putting messages into a traceable database. The government would then be able to identify and act against the sender if any content was found to be illegal. India is the biggest market for WhatsApp.
Facebook said users could hold their own encryption key, preventing a scenario in which a cloud service provider could be forced to hand over the key to authorities. He said: “You can now secure your end-to-end encrypted backup with a password of your choice or a 64-digit encryption key that only you know. Neither WhatsApp nor your backup service provider will be able to read your backups or access the key required to unlock them.
WhatsApp messages sent and received on mobile devices are already end-to-end encrypted, with the latest feature designed to reassure people who back up their messages to cloud services in case they lose their phones. The feature can be enabled by opening the app settings, tapping on chats, then saving chats and end-to-end encryption.
Facebook’s plans to gradually introduce end-to-end encryption into its suite of services, which also include Instagram and Facebook Messenger, have already been criticized by the government. Home Secretary Priti Patel said it would put children at risk and provide a hiding place for abusers and other criminals.
In June, the Home Office said the government was in favor of strong encryption to protect citizens from harm online, but feared Facebook’s implementation of the technology would blind the ability of law enforcement agencies to access the content.
WhatsApp’s over 2 billion users send over 100 billion messages per day. Speaking in September, when the proposal was announced, to US tech blog The Verge, WhatsApp chief executive Will Cathcart said, “I firmly believe governments should push us to have more security and not do the opposite.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, also speaking in September, said: “WhatsApp is the first global messaging service of this scale to offer end-to-end encrypted messaging and backups, and achieving this was a very technical challenge. difficile that required a new framework for key storage and cloud storage across all operating systems. “