The ongoing encryption debate received more hype when WhatsApp announced that it will offer end-to-end encryption to its users. This made us wonder, is the encryption everything that users hoped for or is there something missing? Well, let’s get one thing straight; by taking this initiative, WhatsApp has conveyed the message that the company values the digital privacy of its users and is catering this issue with some gravity.
The statement released by the company officials clearly depicts that only the sender and the receiver will be able to access the message and neither WhatsApp nor any other third-party agency will be able to decrypt that message.
It’s quite encouraging to see that companies like WhatsApp and Facebook have made a drastic shift in their ideologies and are focusing on user privacy. But there are certain concerns that are still unresolved. Lest just go through some of the major loopholes that we feel WhatsApp has overlooked.
Is the Metadata of the Users Safe?
WhatsApp won’t be looking at the content of the message but it will be keeping the numbers involved in the chat and their timestamps. This information comprises your metadata and WhatsApp is bound to serve this data to the government if the court orders to do so. So, hackers are bit smarter and can access your metadata as well if governments can. Not many are aware that metadata is enough to suffice the purpose of building your profile.
Will Facebook Follow the Same Route?
Facebook, the largest social network, acquired WhatsApp in 2014 and the company mostly relies on ads to fuel its revenue. Facebook is perceived as a company that that doesn’t bother much about user privacy since it cannot survive without the data of its users. So, the claim of WhatsApp to safeguard user privacy seems a bit shaky as the parent company has a different ideology. Not to forget, Facebook also asks for your number for security and you know your WhatsApp is associated with your number as well. So, it’s quite clear that your accounts of Facebook and WhatsApp are not separate no matter how loudly they claim they are.
What about the Revenue?
WhatsApp use to offer service at a very low fee and also tried to monetize it but suddenly started offering the service for free. How generous. Anyway, talking about the generosity, WhatsApp and Facebook are following two different business philosophies – Facebook is making billions of dollars while WhatsApp is making no money. Perhaps it is the most unusual thing to see from a company with over 1 billion users. The questions remains: how long will they survive with this strategy? Many believe that shifting towards ads is on the cards and this will sabotage user privacy.
These are some of the questions but there are some others that need to be discussed. However, the major question remains that despite all these loopholes will WhatsApp remain able to pull off this end-to-end encryption initiative? Only time will reveal the end to this story, but for now, you should start using a VPN to stay safe and anonymous.