Facebook's WhatsApp Turns on Encryption for 1 Billion Users

Every private message, photo, video or file sent over Facebook's WhatsApp is now encrypted by default for the messaging service's one billion users.

WhatsApp co-founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton announced in a blog post today they had successfully rolled out end-to-end encryption by default, marking the culmination of two years of work to help give people better security over their WhatsApp communications.

"The desire to protect people's private communication is one of the core beliefs we have at WhatsApp, and for me, it's personal," Koum wrote. "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."

The issue has between balancing privacy and national security concerns has long been discussed between Silicon Valley, politicians and law enforcement, but it was the FBI vs. Apple case that dragged it into the spotlight. The FBI dropped the case last month after it said it was able to access an encrypted iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters.

"While WhatsApp is among the few communication platforms to build full end-to-end encryption that is on by default for everything you do, we expect that it will ultimately represent the future of personal communication," Koum said. "Efforts to weaken encryption risk exposing people's information to abuse from cybercriminals, hackers, and rogue states."

Users who have updated to the latest version of WhatsApp won't have to do anything to encrypt their messages, Koum said, as the new security setting will be on default all of the time.



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