Yesterday, Meta announced its plans to enable default end-to-end encryption for Messenger by the end of 2023.
The company is also experimenting with upgrading millions of people’s chats with stronger encryption standards.
Messenger end-to-end by the end of the year
Meta has been tinkering with the introduction of end-to-end encryption for years. So far, the features have been optional or experimental.
In 2016, the tech giant first rolled out this type of encryption through its secret conversations mode. In 2021, it introduced it for voice and video calls on the Messenger app.
Last year, it added it to group chats and finally started working on bringing it to individual chats.
Now, the company has announced that it will implement default end-to-end encryption for all chats by the end of the year.
This comes as a response to the increasing pressure on Meta to ensure neither the company nor someone else could access users’ messages.
Protecting private conversations became a popular topic after the company handed over chat history between a 17-year-old girl and her mother to the police. The two then faced criminal charges including performing an illegal abortion and concealing a dead body.
The charges against them were based on the Nebraska abortion law. However, many campaigners and digital privacy advocates were unhappy about the decision. Their stance was that the case shows how dangerous digital surveillance in the US is, especially post-Roe.
This encouraged many organizations, including Amnesty International and Fight for the Future, to start a petition for Meta to introduce end-to-end encryption.
In a blog post, Meta said that to bring this to life, it had to rebuild over 100 features. It called it an “incredibly complex and challenging engineering puzzle.” Still, it looks like end-to-end Messenger encryption is finally about to arrive this year.
Meta’s deputy privacy officer Rob Sherman said the same security method will be coming to Instagram DMs soon.
WhAtsapp’s end-to-end encryption
Meta’s WhatsApp already uses end-to-end encryption but this didn’t stop the talks of the company invading user privacy.
The app is built on this security method, meaning there should be no way anyone besides the sender and recipient can read messages on it.
However, there were reports that Meta has contract workers in several cities across the world who go through private conversations.
A company’s representative responded to the rumors saying that these employees’ job is to check the messages users report as abuse.
They said that when a user sends a report, WhatsApp moderators gain access to the most recent messages the reported user has sent.
However, they assured the public that Meta can’t read any other texts or listen to voice calls.
While no major incidents have taken place so far, many are skeptical about WhatsApp chats being as private as the company claims.