FACEBOOK-OWNED INSTANT MESSENGER WhatsApp has admitted that it's storing unencrypted backup data on Google Drive.
The reveal comes after a deal signed on 16 August that allowed users to store backed up data to the Google Drive service without eating into their storage allowance. Previously, the backup had come out of an allowance of 15GB across data, Gmail and Photos.
However, the company has now confirmed that the act of encrypting the data between WhatsApp and Google is not part of the end-to-end encryption that the company offers for its conversations.
This is one of those "true, but it bears repeating" moments. There's no reason why the transfer should be encrypted.
Although both WhatsApp and Google use encryption, that data is still vulnerable, briefly, as the data switches from Facebook servers to Google. WhatsApp has previously tried to labour this point but with the new rules, it will only take one person kicking up a stink to make it easier to just warn people again now.
For critics, who believe that Whatsapp should be able to offer up user data on demand in cases such as terrorism or other National emergencies, this will be welcome news indeed, as it's likely to give spooks something to grab onto as they try to fight crime, particularly terrorism, in the UK and around the world.
Following the recent suspected terrorist incident outside Parliament, Theresa May, repeated calls for big tech to work with the government to access data when required. Of course, Amber Rudd doesn't think us plebs need encryption at all.
For privacy advocates, however, this is a pretty big kick in the teeth, though it is worth remembering that nobody is making you backup your data. If you feel that strongly, you can always find another way to store your chat history, or just don't back it up at all.
But for parent company Facebook, which is still reeling from the whole Cambridge Analytica nonsense, this kind of exposure over privacy is something it could do without.
The new free backups come into force on 12 November. Until then, the storage will still come out of your allowance. μ
Another fine mesh
But, er, it'll be available in pink
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