WhatsApp And Open Whisper Bring End-To-End Encryption To Popular Messaging App

We're constantly being reminded that our government has a great interest in our private lives, whether it's flying specially equipped planes over densely populated areas to trick tens of thousands of phones into forking over sensitive data, or snooping on Internet traffic, big brother's watching us. One of the few ways to maintain a little bit of privacy these days is through encryption, and in collaboration with Open Whisper Systems, WhatsApp is now providing end-to-end encryption for its users by default.

The most recent WhatsApp for Android client includes support for the TextSecure encryption protocol that's being used for billions of messages that are being exchanged daily. At present, it doesn't yet support encrypted messaging for group chat or media messages, but support for those is coming next, as well as support for more client platforms, Open Whisper System says.

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"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," Open Whisper Systems said in a blog post. "Brian Acton and the WhatsApp engineering team has been amazing to work with. Their devotion to the project as well as their thoroughness in getting this done are inspiring in a world where so many other companies are focused on surveillance instead of privacy."

For privacy advocates, the upside to end-to-end encryption is that the key exchange is setup between users, and only the two users communicating with each other. This prevents WhatsApp from able to decrypt messages, even if ordered to by law enforcement.