This familiar discourse of safety Vs privacy has become an abundant narrative after any given terrorist attack. It considers whether government and security officials require access to encrypted communications like Facebook-owned WhatsApp in order to keep the general public protected.
According to EU Justice Commissioner, Věra Jourová, The European Commission is lobbying strongly for access to data stored in the cloud by encrypted apps. Their goal is to provide police and intelligence communities with a fast and reliable way to intercept and monitor data from terrorists and organised criminals.
At present, police and government authorities rely on the cooperation of encrypted apps and cloud data storage providers to voluntarily grant access by official request.
Within the context of recent events, this has been heavily criticised by many leading figures within the EU parliament. They claim this is leaving Europeans vulnerable and their security dependent on voluntary actions.
In light of the Westminster attack, the UK government has been heavily critical of Facebook-owned chat app WhatsApp, with Britain’s home secretary Amber Rudd blaming technology companies publicly for making encrypted communications possible.
Subsequently, they assert that access must be permitted to authorities and are pushing strongly for new legislation that will require all technologies to comply in developing backdoor architecture into their encryption.
However, developing a backdoor architecture to data encryption is by no means an easy task as it would compromise the app's security. It also fails to understand how encryption works as any backdoor solution would not only facilitate access to those with good motivations, but instead compromise the encryption.
This has resulted in many software developers identifying that banning end-to-end point encryption could make billions of devices vulnerable to potential hacking.
Furthermore, this discourse also fails to identify that end-to-end point encryption makes data unintelligible to anyone but the intended recipient.
Therefore when implemented, even the service providers don’t have access to intelligible data and therefore would struggle to comply with any new legislation demanding a backdoor architecture within their product.
Notably it is also under this narrative of legislative compliance that would potentially also allow Facebook to have access to WhatsApp sensitive data.
This raises concern and goes directly against the European Union previous ruling in which they ordered WhatsApp to stop sharing users information with Facebook.
This is because they felt people using their app had not consented knowingly or even fully understood how their information was being shared for commercial gain.
It is not clear at present exactly what information will be shared in the new agreement of cooperation between software developers and the government. The more information Facebook collects from users, the more revenue it can generate from advertisers via target specific marketing sales.
Taking this into consideration WhatsApp encrypted information is still at present in full effect and a highly effective way of protecting user’s messenger communications on their mobile phones.
As of 5 April 2017, all messages are now securely encrypted by the most up to date version of end-to-end encryption, as part of the latest update.
WhatsApp now encrypts every single message, call, picture, video or any other type of file you send so that the only person who can read or view it is the recipient. Not even WhatsApp can intercept and view those messages.
Subsequently, we recommend that you make sure your device is running the most recent version of WhatsApp by downloading the update provided by WhatsApp. This is available for downloaded on your iPhone, Android, Nokia, Window or BlackBerry smartphone handset accordingly.
Once downloaded, you should receive a message within your chats if you are using the latest version of the app (which is required by law) to inform you of the changes made and implemented for you.