In light of the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica data scandal, messaging app WhatsApp has said it does not collect the contents of user’s message and all messages are end-to-end encrypted. Facebook owns WhatsApp, which is one of the world’s most popular messaging app with over 1.2 billion global monthly users. In India, WhatsApp has around 200 million users and this makes the country one of the most important markets for the messaging app.
According to a PTI report, WhatsApp was responding to concerns by experts that the popular instant messaging service with over 200-million active users in India might not be as secure. “WhatsApp collects very little data and every message is end-to-end encrypted. Contrary to recent comments in the media, we are not keeping track of the friends and family you have messaged,” a WhatsApp spokesperson told PTI. “The privacy and security of our users is incredibly important to WhatsApp,” the spokesperson added.
WhatsApp also responded to reports that groups might not be as secure as previously thought. “Whenever a new member joins a group all members receive a notification that includes whether the person was added via group link or by an administrator directly. Group members can always see everyone in the group including their phone number and their name. We make it easy to leave a group or block unwanted messages with one tap,” the spokesperson added.
WhatsApp end-to-end encryption: How it works
End-to-end encryption means no-third-party, including WhatsApp can read a user’s message. This means that if WhatsApp messages are deleted from a user’s account, they cannot be recovered either, because the company is not storing these on its servers. WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption is always on by default, and relies on the Signal protocol design by Open Whisper systems. Signal is another messaging app with an emphasis on privacy. WhatsApp uses Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256-bit encryption to keep these a user’s messages secure.
Facebook data scandal
WhatsApp’s parent company Facebook, is facing criticism over the Cambridge Analytica data leaks and recent revelations that have come to light. Facebook has itself revealed that using the search and recovery option, it was possible that malicious actors scraped the data of nearly all of its 2 billion users. Facebook also revealed that over 87 million people were impacted by the Cambridge Analytica data leaks. In India, it said over 5 lakh people were affected.
With PTI inputs