It’s not just WhatsApp, but there are lots of other messaging apps out there that have implemented end-to-end encryption as a way of protecting users and the communications that take place over the apps.
Ever since WhatsApp introduced this type of encryption where the company says that no third party, including the company itself, can hijack any of the communications that take place on the app, there have been quite a number of issues raised regarding the feature. While users of the app have had a lot of praise for the introduction of the feature, other sections, including governments and security agencies, have been opposed to this end-to-end encryption.
The fact that some sections are not happy with how end-to-end encryption works has led to the question: do we really need this protocol on WhatsApp and other apps that have implemented it?
Well, according to Amber Rudd, who is the UK home secretary, what this feature has basically done is provide a safe harbor for terrorists to communicate and plan their missions without the fear of being caught. Since the protocol prevents any access to the messages being exchanged between two parties, these terror groups have nothing to worry because they know no one can access what they are talking about, even with a written and signed permission from a court of law.
Apparently, Rudd is of the view that “real people” do not need to have end-to-end encryption on WhatsApp and other chat apps. Furthermore, the Conservative minister adds that tech companies behind these apps should be more than willing to help security agencies when it comes to dealing with security threats. As usual, this hasn’t gone down well with activists who are proponents of end-to-end encryption, claiming that this move is “dangerous and misleading.”
It’s not just the UK where the subject of end-to-end encryption is such a sensitive issue. Many other countries have argued that this type of protocol impedes the capability of security agencies when it comes to detecting and responding to potential threats. However, activists are adamant that this technology ensures WhatsApp users are guaranteed that their data remains private and safe and that creating a “back door” or somehow weakening this protocol would be opening the door for abuse.
According to Rudd, the presence of end-to-end encryption technologies means that security agencies have no way of gaining access to encrypted data in specific instances, something that is having a severe effect on the ability to stop these terror attacks as well as bring the people behind the attacks to justice.
While these statements are without a doubt pointing towards the British government’s stand against end-to-end encryption on WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram and other apps, Rudd further tries to clarify her position by adding that the government is not determined to ban end-to-end encryption, however, all it wants is for these companies to willingly leave behind these technologies because “real people” do not really need it.
Rudd says that WhatsApp is not preferred by billions of people across the globe because it has end-to-end encryption; rather, it is because of the app’s user-friendly and cheap way of allowing people to communicate with friends and family regardless of where they are across the globe.
As noted, WhatsApp is not the only app that offers end-to-end encryption. As such, activists claim that even if the Facebook-owned app were to ditch the protocol, terrorists and extremists will simply switch to another app that doesn’t comply with what the UK wants with respect to this protocol. Furthermore, ordinary and unsuspecting users of the app would remain less safe.
So, the question here is do you think WhatsApp users really need end-to-end encryption? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.