Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company is expanding end-to-end encryption on its WhatsApp messaging service.
Texts sent on WhatsApp are already protected so that they can only be seen by the sender and the recipient. People were able to back up their messages to the cloud, using Alphabet Inc’s Google Drive and Apple Inc.’s icloud. But, while WhatsApp doesn’t have access to these backups, Apple and Google potentially do.
Now, Facebook will allow users to choose to enable end-to-end encryption on their backups as well, which means neither WhatsApp nor cloud service providers will be able to access it.
“We’re adding another layer of privacy and security,” Zuckerberg said in a blog post Friday. “WhatsApp is the first global messaging service of this scale to offer end-to-end encrypted messaging and backups, and achieving this was a very difficult technical challenge.”
The move comes as Facebook faces a close review of its privacy policies for the messaging service. Earlier this week, ProPublica released a report highlighting how contract workers sift through millions of private messages that have been flagged by users as potentially abusive. The nonprofit investigation organization later made it clear that WhatsApp is not breaking end-to-end encryption.
Meanwhile, government officials have encouraged Facebook and other tech companies to roll back encryption on email products to make crime investigations easier.
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