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WhatsApp completes full encryption


By Doug Zanger, Americas Editor

April 5, 2016 | 3 min read

Messaging platform WhatsApp has been mostly encrypted for months. Yet today, according to a blog post by the company, the final phase of full encryption has been completed.

The standalone messaging app owned by Facebook needed to finalize encryption of video calls to make it 100 per cent encrypted, according to CEO Jan Koum through Wired.

“The idea is simple: when you send a message, the only person who can read it is the person or group chat that you send that message to,” noted the post on the company site. “No one can see inside that message. Not cybercriminals. Not hackers. Not oppressive regimes. Not even us. End-to-end encryption helps make communication via WhatsApp private – sort of like a face-to-face conversation.”

“Oppressive regimes,” could be a veiled swipe at the United States government, who had been in the throes of privacy battles over the hacking of San Bernadino gunman Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone to gain crucial investigation information for the FBI.

The privacy debate also raged in Brazil as a Facebook executive, Diego Dzodan, was recently arrested for “non-compliance” in giving Brazilian authorities messages in criminal investigations.

According to a statement by WhatsApp at the time: “WhatsApp cannot provide information we do not have. We cooperated to the full extent of our ability in this case and while we respect the important job of law enforcement, we strongly disagree with its decision [to arrest Dzodan].”

The privacy issue is one that’s close to Koum’s heart and the company is steadfast in ensuring that the huge user base that uses the app can do so without fear.

“The desire to protect people's private communication is one of the core beliefs we have at WhatsApp, and for me, it's personal,” noted Klum in the post. “I grew up in the USSR during communist rule and the fact that people couldn't speak freely is one of the reasons my family moved to the United States. Today more than a billion people are using WhatsApp to stay in touch with their friends and family all over the world. And now, every single one of those people can talk freely and securely on WhatsApp.”

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