WhatsApp makes security changes to protect a billion peoples’ privacy

Chat app introduces encrypted messages to ward off cyber crime.

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End-to-End encryption WhatsApp have activated a feature to protect 1 billion peoples' privacy. Image Picture Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

WhatsApp has introduced a new security feature for all one billion of its users worldwide.

The Facebook-owned messaging service has activated end-to-end encryption on all messages, meaning that communications are scrambled when you hit Send and are only decrypted when they reach the recipient’s device.

WhatsApp explained the changes in an official statement saying: “No one can see inside that message. Not cybercriminals. Not hackers. Not oppressive regimes. Not even us. End-to-end encryption helps make communication via WhatsApp private – like a face-to-face conversation.

The statement continued: “The desire to protect people’s private communication is one of the core beliefs we have at WhatsApp.”

“No one can see inside that message. Not cybercriminals. Not hackers. Not oppressive regimes. Not even us.”

Data privacy is becoming an increasingly hot button topic. The FBI asked Apple to provide it with data from the iPhone of San Bernardino gunman Syed Farook.

When the tech giant stood firm, saying it would represent a potential breach of privacy for all users, the FBI found its own method of breaking into the phone.

WhatsApp alluded to the FBI v Apple security debate, adding: “Recently there has been a lot of discussion about encrypted services and the work of law enforcement.

“While we recognise the important work of law enforcement in keeping people safe, efforts to weaken encryption risk exposing people’s information to abuse from cybercriminals, hackers, and rogue states.”

Amnesty International called WhatsApp’s decision “a huge victory” for privacy.

“WhatsApp’s roll out of the Signal Protocol, providing end to end encryption for its one billion users worldwide, is a major boost for people’s ability to express themselves and communicate without fear,” the charity said in a statement.

“This is a huge victory for privacy and free speech, especially for activists and journalists who depend on strong and trustworthy communications to carry out their work without putting their lives at greater risk.”

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Loaded digital media manager Simon Reynolds has written about film and entertainment for various leading websites since 2008. Follow Simon at @simonreyn

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