WhatsApp encryption - does Facebook want to overcome it?

Aug 5, 2021
Updated • Aug 5, 2021
Encryption, Google Android, Mobile Computing

Facebook has confirmed that they have hired a team of researchers to figure out a way to get past end-to-end encryption.

One of the privacy features that we appreciate about the WhatsApp chatting app is the end-to-end encryption. The encryption means that only people that you’ve given permission to may read your messages. This end-to-end encryption even excludes the app itself from viewing your messages. It’s a much-needed feature to protect the users’ privacy and reassure you that when saying something on the app, it remains private between you and the person you shared it with. However, it has become evident that parent company Facebook may be trying to look for a way around this.

Why would Facebook want to surpass these encryptions? One of the theories is that they aim to get past the protections in order to data-mine chats to deliver targeted advertising. Facebook has denied these allegations but also hasn’t explained why it would be necessary for them to have this data. The company merely stated that it’s still too early to consider homomorphic encryption for WhatsApp.

WhatsApp encryption - does Facebook want to overcome it?

Homomorphic encryption would be a way that Facebook can analyze WhatsApp messages without actually decrypting the chat. In theory, this would allow Facebook to gather valuable data from chats without violating the users’ privacy. However, at this stage, it’s not clear how this would be possible.

Earlier this year, we saw the backlash of what can happen when users feel their privacy is not being respected. When Facebook forced a new privacy policy on users, the resulting chaos was fierce and forced the company to delay and even alter the roll-out many times. WhatsApp lost many users due to this issue.

Closing words

Even just the idea of Facebook analyzing encrypted WhatsApp messages could cause another exodus. If homomorphic encryption on WhatsApp were to come to pass, how many users would stop using the app and flee to other chat platforms such as Telegram and Signal? Perhaps the industry giant should explore other revenues for potential incomes rather than looking to invade users’ privacy.

WhatsApp encryption - does Facebook want to overcome it?
Article Name
WhatsApp encryption - does Facebook want to overcome it?
Is Facebook looking for a way to get around WhatsApp encryption, and how would you feel if they did manage to?
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  1. TelV said on August 11, 2021 at 2:25 pm

    FB aren’t the only ones interested in cracking Whatsapp encryption. The Thai police are also looking to spyware similar to the Israeli Pegasus aplication to read encrypted messages between users: https://www.thaienquirer.com/31061/thai-police-seeking-spyware-that-will-help-it-monitor-chat-applications/

    I wouldn’t put it past herr Zuckerberg to do the same thing if he can get away with it.

  2. Anonymous said on August 6, 2021 at 5:36 am

    Facebook manages the keys, of course they can decrypt the messages.

  3. Anonymous said on August 6, 2021 at 3:36 am

    Why would anyone do business with a company like this? I think it’s not because people would but because they don’t understand why their data needs to stay encrypted. For one thing, look up NSO Group and Pegasus. That’s besides Facebook datamining your content and selling it for profit to the highest bidder.

  4. Anonymous said on August 5, 2021 at 11:33 pm

    I suspect they already added some backdoor to be able to decrypt the messages.

  5. Yash said on August 5, 2021 at 1:40 pm

    Good article Shaun. You’re a new writer here. I’ve been reading your articles for last two weeks. Few articles in the beginning were a bit barebones which is not surprising, but now hopefully articles will get interesting like this one.

    To Ghacks team, the time has come to separate Android articles from another articles so some users can have it easy following a certain category. I like Android articles but even then distinct categories would be nice.

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