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November 19, 2014

WhatsApp adds end-to-end encryption to service

WhatsApp in 'largest deployment of end-to-end encrypted communication in history'

By Ben Sullivan

Messaging service WhatsApp is set to add end-to-end encryption into its service.

The platform, owned by Facebook, will be incorporating technology from the TextSecure encrypted text application to encrypt the messages of over 600 million users.

Only users on Android devices are currently benefitting from the encryption, but an iOS version is set for the near future.

In a blog post about the partnership with WhatsApp, Open Whisper Systems, the firm behind TextSecure, said: "We believe that by continuing to advance the state of the art for frictionless private communication with open source software, open protocols, and simple libraries, we’ll have additional opportunities to support mass adoption of end-to-end encryption.

"WhatsApp deserves enormous praise for devoting considerable time and effort to this project. Even though we’re still at the beginning of the rollout, we believe this already represents the largest deployment of end-to-end encrypted communication in history."

Rafael Laguna, CEO of Open-Xchange, said that he thinks it is a bold move from WhatsApp which challenges messaging competitors which currently use users’ personal data for monetisation purposes.

He said: "The business model of harvesting personal data for monetisation is directly at odds with the idea of encryption. If Google encrypts your email, it can’t analyse it and sell targeted ads based on your data. These companies have a vested interest in your communication being insecure. That’s why the Whatsapp announcement is so interesting. It’s owned by Facebook, but seems to be taking a very different strategy in terms of privacy. It could have a big effect on how the other big Internet companies approach message and content encryption."

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