Facebook's WhatsApp boosts end-to-end encryption amid scrutiny

accreditation
0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Facebook will allow users to choose to enable end-to-end encryption on their backups as well. (Photographer: Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg)
Facebook will allow users to choose to enable end-to-end encryption on their backups as well. (Photographer: Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company is expanding end-to-end encryption on its WhatsApp messaging service. 

Texts sent on WhatsApp are already protected so that they can only be seen by the sender and recipient. People have been able to back up their messages in the cloud, using Alphabet's Google Drive and Apple's icloud. But, while WhatsApp doesn't have access to those backups, Apple and Google potentially do. 

Now, Facebook will allow users to choose to enable end-to-end encryption on their backups as well, meaning neither WhatsApp nor the cloud-service providers will be able to access them.  

"We're adding another layer of privacy and security," Zuckerberg said in a blog post Friday. "WhatsApp is the first global messaging service at this scale to offer end-to-end encrypted messaging and backups, and getting there was a really hard technical challenge."

The move arrives as Facebook faces scrutiny over its privacy polices for the messaging service. Earlier this week, ProPublica published a report highlighting how contract workers sift through millions of private messages that have been flagged by users as potentially abusive. The nonprofit investigative organization subsequently made clear that WhatsApp doesn’t break the end to end encryption.

Meanwhile, government officials have been encouraging Facebook and other tech companies to roll back encryption of messaging products to make investigating crimes easier. 

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Rand - Dollar
15.04
-1.2%
Rand - Pound
20.67
-1.0%
Rand - Euro
17.44
-1.3%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.30
-1.5%
Rand - Yen
0.13
-1.6%
Gold
1,798.40
+0.3%
Silver
24.17
-0.0%
Palladium
1,964.89
-2.3%
Platinum
1,016.50
-1.5%
Brent Crude
86.40
+0.5%
Top 40
60,874
-0.3%
All Share
67,475
-0.2%
Resource 10
63,082
-0.9%
Industrial 25
87,253
+0.1%
Financial 15
14,054
+0.2%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Company Snapshot
Voting Booth
Facebook is facing a fresh crisis after a former employee turned whistle-blower leaked internal company research . Do you still use Facebook?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Yes, the benefits outweigh the risk for me
26% - 350 votes
No, I have deleted it
44% - 584 votes
Yes, but I am considering deleting it
30% - 394 votes
Vote