With mounting pressure from governments around the world and a partnership with Facebook, the messaging service WhatsApp claims it will defend its hallmark encrypted messaging protection at all costs as it sues an Israeli surveillance firm.
The most popular messaging app in the world is celebrating more than two billion active users, and WhatsApp claims their commitment to protecting the privacy of their users isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
During a recent interview, the head of WhatsApp said, “For all of human history, people have been able to communicate privately with each other. And we don’t think that should go away in a modern society.”
But while WhatsApp has made a name for itself by promising private communications through end-to-end encryption, it has come at a price. Governments around the world have tried to force the company to build a backdoor into its platform, claiming it would help law enforcement go after suspected criminals.
However, WhatsApp has repeatedly argued that if it complies, there is no going back, and the creation of a backdoor would also make it possible for hackers to infiltrate the technology.
In a blog post commemorating the latest milestone, the company argued that “Strong encryption acts like an unbreakable digital lock that keeps the information you send over WhatsApp secure, helping protect you from hackers and criminals.”
WhatsApp appears to be preparing itself to fight it out with the US government in the near future, as Attorney General Bill Barr has been highly critical of platforms that use encrypted messaging, and has even alleged that by refusing to compromise the privacy of their users, they are also protecting sex traffickers and pedophiles.
WhatsApp has also become the first tech company to file a lawsuit against a for-profit digital surveillance company, and experts are warning the battle between the two could have a major impact on the way similar firms are regulated.
The company in question is the Israeli surveillance firm, NSO Group. WhatsApp claims the firm exploited its platform and used the technology to facilitate government hacking sprees in more than 20 countries.
They say NSO hacked the phones of more than 1,400 users, which included 100 Journalists, along with prominent female leaders, political dissidents, and human rights activists.
NSO’s spyware has most notably been linked to the Saudi government, with reports suggesting that it was used to target journalist Jamal Khashoggi ahead of his gruesome murder.
There have also been reports that the spyware was used by the Saudi government in its reported hack of the phone belonging to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. So there is a chance that WhatsApp won’t be the only one going after the firm in the near future.
As WhatsApp prepares to take on some of the most powerful governments in the world, it continues to claim it won’t back down on its commitment to privacy that has now attracted more than two billion users to the platform.