Just a few years ago, exiled whistle blower Edward Snowden revealed how the government tracked countless millions of phone conversations, and more. More recently, the FBI figured out a secret way to break into encrypted iPhones.
It seems like nothing is safe, but now privacy advocates have an extremely powerful new way to keep the Feds, hackers, and spies from snooping on private communication. This tool will protect the privacy of 1 billion app users, courtesy of Facebook.
The social media giant, with 1.6 billion users, has rolled out end-to-end encryption on its WhatsApp messenger app. You might be wondering: What is end-to-end encryption? And, why do you need it?
First, encryption is an extremely secure way to protect your conversations from being heard or seen by anyone but you. It's a method that scrambles your data so, even if hacker intercepts the data, they can't see anything but gibberish.
End-to-end encryption means the encryption extends from one end of the communication pathway to the other. It doesn't offer hackers any point to tap in and steal an unencrypted version of the message.
WhatsApp is enabling this type of encryption for everything. As it explains, "from now on, when you and your contacts use the latest version of the app, every call you make, and every message, photo, video, file, and voice message you send, is end-to-end encrypted by default, including group chats."
Previously, WhatsApp encrypted only text messages. WhatsApp's end-to-end encryption is available around the world in 50 languages.
That's an amazing step forward for people like you who are concerned about your privacy. So, why is the government upset about it?
As the FBI vs. Apple battle proved, the government can make a compelling case to spy on people. With the dead San Bernardino terrorist, for instance, his encrypted iPhone may contain valuable information about overseas terrorist connections, or other terrorist plots to kill Americans.
What do you think? Is end-to-end encryption a good thing or just a hindrance to the government? Let us know in comments.