MEME SHARING SERVICE WhatsApp has given a middle finger to the US government by switching on end-to-end encryption for its billion-plus users.
Hot on the heels of Apple's high-profile iPhone encryption battle with the FBI, the Facebook-owned messaging service has announced that all user activity on WhatsApp, whether it's making phone calls, sending text messages, photos or videos, will be supported by end-to-end encryption.
This means that the company will not have the ability to read customers' messages even if approached by law enforcement.
WhatsApp, with the help of Open Whisper System, originally began rolling out end-to-end encryption in November 2014, so the full implementation has been a long time coming.
The strong encryption will be rolled out across all platforms, WhatsApp said, including iOS, Android, Windows, BlackBerry and Nokia phones.
WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum said: "We've been working for the past two years to give people better security over their conversations on WhatsApp. I'm proud of our team for hitting this milestone.
"Now every message, photo, video, file and voice message you send is end-to-end encrypted by default if you and the people you message use the latest version of our app. Even your group chats and voice calls are encrypted.
"People deserve security. It makes it possible for us to connect with our loved ones. It gives us the confidence to speak our minds. It allows us to communicate sensitive information with colleagues, friends and others.
"We're glad to do our part in keeping people's information out of the hands of hackers and cyber criminals."
A report at The Guardian said that WhatsApp will also notify users if messages are encrypted. For example, if one user in a group conversation is using an older version of the app that doesn't support encryption, the others in the thread will be made aware.
It's unlikely to be a coincidence that the rollout of WhatsApp's beefed up encryption comes just a week after the FBI dropped its case against Apple after mysteriously managing to to unlock the San Bernardino iPhone without the firm's help.
Koum previously sided with Apple in the long drawn out battle, saying that the FBI's demands set a "dangerous precedent".
He said: "I have always admired Tim Cook for his stance on privacy and Apple's efforts to protect user data, and couldn't agree more with everything said in their Customer Letter today.
"We must not allow this dangerous precedent to be set. Today our freedom and our liberty is at stake." µ
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