The past few weeks have been hell for Apple as the government pushes the tech giant around in a case that wants the former to help the latter’s agents unlock a smartphone believed to belong to a terrorist.
Even before this cools off, the New York Times has surfaced with reports that WhatsApp, the most used messaging app in the world, could be right up next in line to face the same wrath as the iPhone maker. This is because a federal judge in an ongoing criminal case has approved that government officials can go ahead and seek access to encrypted WhatsApp chats, something that draws some serious comparisons with the current battle between Apple and the FBI.
While there are quite a number of investigators who aren’t of the view that tech companies should be forced to decrypt messages, other still is the ideal thing to do with respect to national security. It has happened before in Brazil where a senior Facebook official was put in custody for failing to comply with a government directive that demanded WhatsApp messages to be decrypted as part of a drug-trafficking investigation.
As it seems, WhatsApp couldn’t help in any case due to the end-to-end encryption it currently uses in its communication services. This type of technology even makes it harder for security agencies to get any closer to encrypted messages on WhatsApp; something might soon face a challenge.
As mentioned at the beginning, WhatsApp is the most used app in the world, boasting a user base of about 1 billion people. Being the most popular app, this Facebook-owned chat app has grown to become a major target for both hackers and investigators. The company keeps on tightening the security measures in order to keep off hackers, but investigators want to monitor the app even more due to its huge user base.
If investigators turn to WhatsApp in a bid to solidify their fight against encryption, it will only be making the stance against this fight, represented by tech companies, much stronger than it is. It is unlikely that companies will agree to create “back doors” for investigators to use whenever they want to monitor encrypted messages on WhatsApp and other online platforms.
Electronic monitoring has been a tool used by the government for quite some time now. In the wake of strong encryption protocols that proves to be unbreakable, we might just be starting an error without wiretapping. There is doubt that the government will down its tools in the fight against encryption. As noted earlier, it is also unlikely that tech companies will give in to government calls. If anything, this is just the beginning of what might be a never-ending battle.