According to the Guardian, the battle between Silicon Valley’s leading companies and US government over encryption has just begun. After the support given to Apple against the FBI, it seems that companies like Whatsapp, Facebook, Google and Snapchat are planning to increase their own privacy technology.
So, it seems that within weeks, WhatsApp will expand encryption to voice calls, while Facebook is planning to strenghten the securities features of its Messenger. According to the Guardian report, also Google is trying to further secure the privacy of its email users. Guardian’s article point out that engineers at major technology firms had already created encrypted messaging products in the past, but such products were never released because they were considered hard to use.
But it seems that the right moment to use these strong privacy tools is arrived, also from a business point of view. What’s interesting is that these projects started before Apple entered its battle with the Department of Justice (later this month, Apple is due to appear in a federal court in California to fight the order). The public opinion is divided over the case, reports the Guardian. And, of course, any action toward encryption that tech firms may take, will put them against Washington.
There are already two US Senators (Richard Burr of North Carolina and Dianne Feinstein of California) who have written draft legislation that would create penalties for companies that refuse to provide readable user data to Authorities. And Barack Obama seems to be on the same wavelength with this draft and said “If government can’t get in, then everyone’s walking around with a Swiss bank account in their pocket, right?”. But Jan Koum, the founder of WhatsApp, has a completely different opinion and, on his Facebook account, posted this strong statement “Our freedom and our liberty are at stake.”
Encrypted messaging is already available for those who use WhatsApp with Android and iPhone devices. But it seems that in the near future the instant messaging company will offer its users also encrypted voice calls and encrypted groupe messages. At least that’s what two unknown people said to the Guardian. So far, WhatsApp security functions have always been free for users, and on the matter Koum clearly stated that security is not a bonus feature.
But now it’s difficult to predict if there will be changes in the future. Other sources added that in the coming weeks WhatsApp intends to make a formal announcement about its expanded encryption offerings.