WhatsApp Re-Ignites the Encryption Debate With Its Software Upgrade

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Source:   —  April 07, 2016, at 3:03 AM

The excellent news for these users is that the service has presently added end-to-end encryption ensuring that messages, phone calls, and photos or videos are all kept far from the prying eyes.

WhatsApp Re-Ignites the Encryption Debate With Its Software Upgrade

More than a billion people presently utilize the world'south largest messaging service, WhatsApp, on familiar brands such as iPhone, Android, and Windows smartphones. The excellent news for these users is that the service has presently added end-to-end encryption ensuring that messages, phone calls, and photos or videos are all kept far from the prying eyes.

Tech Companies Winner Privacy

This minor upgrade from the Facebook-owned WhatsApp will be seen as an necessary step forward in the ongoing battle between authorities and tech companies. The encryption of communications means that only the message'south sender and the recipient can ever read the messages. Even if WhatsApp were faced with a Ct order to release information, they'd be unable to assistance authorities due to the encryption safeguarding their user'south privacy and security. WhatsApp founder Jan Koum:

"Number one can look interior that message. Not cybercriminals. Not hackers. Not oppressive regimes. Not even us. End-to-end encryption helps create communication via WhatsApp private - sort of love a face-to-face conversation"

January Joum grew up in the USSR during communist rule. He experienced firsthand the consequences of suppression of free speech and infringement of privacy. The WhatsApp founder is apparently inspired to implement a positive modify and right a few wrongs for all the right reasons. But will this be sufficient to convince the cynical mobs online?

Privacy Versus National Security

Reportage on the recent conflict between Apple and the FBI, and presently WhatsApps efforts to safeguard privacy, propose that the tech titans are freedom fighters, standing up for our rights, and it feels a tiny ironic. Some believe that these companies are only interested in selling our personal information to the highest bidder or advertiser. In fact, there are multi-billion dollar industries devoted to just that.

There is an incredibly fragile balance between security and privacy. The security of our online banking and critical infrastructure is heavily reliant on encryption to hold us safe. At the same time, these measures of protection also create it challenging for law enforcement agencies to monitor suspects.

It seems that those on both sides of this argument running the risk of compromising the public'south interest and safety if they create the incorrect move. Amnesty International'south Tanya O'Carroll labeled the move "a major boost for people'south skill to express themselves and communicate without fear." Further fueling the debate around our security, privacy, and freedom.

These latest developments allude that the government'south battle against encryption will only finish one way. If the FBI succeeds in forcing Apple to add a backdoor to iOS, a wealth of services such as WhatsApp are waiting to allow an additional layer of protection to our communications. Even if they were to ban WhatsApp, another ten alternatives would soon follow.

This Is a Virtue War

We can expect the virtue wars to intensify over the following few months, but creating a so-called 'back door' in the title of national security is just as risible as it sounds. Most tech companies are becoming increasingly concerned about a valid precedent being set that could weaken encryption across the board and thereby cause more damage than good.

Tech giants Google, Facebook, Snapchat and Apple, are all working towards increasing the security of messages sent through their platforms. As a society, the huge debate we necessity to have is around the protection of personal information versus national security. Unfortunately, there are number simple answers, and this argument will surely continue to rage on.

In many aspects, we expect the state to defend us from harm, but don't wish to give them the tools to create their task easier. Even if we declare that "we've nothing to hide" and consent to hand over the keys to our privacy, it'south the diminution of encryption standards that could be the harbinger of even greater danger.

There are simply number right and incorrect answers to this hot topic, only human opinion. The one certain thing is this: authorities and tech companies that manage our communication tools have very different ideas of what's the proper course of action.

About the Author
Anurag Harsh wears many hats. He's an entrepreneur, a public company executive, a digital guru, a blogger, a McGraw-Hill published author, an angel investor, and a classical musician who's performed two sold out solo concerts at Carnegie Corridor (www. carnegieconcert. com). Chase him on https://twitter. com/anuragharsh

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