WhatsApp opens up end-to-end encryption for everyone

Facebook-owned WhatsApp spent a year-and-a-half rolling out end-to-end encryption to its more than one billion users.
Written by Jake Smith, Contributor
(Image: Open Whisper Systems)

WhatsApp announced on Tuesday its messaging and calling service is now fully end-to-end encrypted for all users, and as a result, the Facebook-owned messaging service unable to comply with government intercept orders.

The messaging app giant partnered with Open Whisper Systems for the encryption, which extends across the entire service: chats, group chats, attachments, voice notes, and voice calls across Android, iPhone, Windows Phone, and Nokia and BlackBerry devices.

The move to turn on encryption by default for more than a billion users across the world was incrementally rolled out by the company over the last year.

Not even WhatsApp employees can read your messages, the company said.

"Your messages should be in your hands. That's why WhatsApp doesn't store your messages on our servers once we deliver them, and end-to-end encryption means that WhatsApp and third parties can't read them anyway," the company wrote in an explanation on its website.

Open Whisper says that once a user is fully "e2e"-capable after updating, WhatsApp will not allow transmitting plaintext to the user, even if they were to downgrade their app version.

WhatsApp expects end-to-end encryption to become normal in the industry: "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."

We've reached out to Facebook to learn about its broader encryption plans.

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