Bad news for spies – WhatsApp is rolling out end-to-end encryption

18 Nov 2014

Messaging service WhatsApp has combined with open-source software group Open Whisper Systems to roll out end-to-end encryption for WhatsApp’s 600m users.

In a move that’s sure to rile those who enjoy peering into the personal communications of the unaware public, Facebook-owned WhatsApp made the surprise announcement this afternoon.

The tool WhatsApp is using, through Open Whisper Systems, has been in development for three years, designed to make seamless end-to-end encrypted messaging possible.

“Today we’re excited to publicly announce a partnership with WhatsApp, the most popular messaging app in the world, to incorporate the TextSecure protocol into their clients and provide end-to-end encryption for their users by default,” said Open Whisper Systems.

“WhatsApp deserves enormous praise for devoting considerable time and effort to this project. Even though we’re still at the beginning of the roll out, we believe this already represents the largest deployment of end-to-end encrypted communication in history.”

It’s already gained significant, and influential, attention on Twitter, with many rejoicing in the news.

The roll out won’t be easy, with WhatsApp’s multiple platforms and 600m users being just two of the reasons for people to expect a slight delay before full encryption is utilised.

“WhatsApp runs on an incredible number of mobile platforms, so full deployment will be an incremental process as we add TextSecure protocol support into each WhatsApp client platform. We have a ways to go until all mobile platforms are fully supported, but we are moving quickly towards a world where all WhatsApp users will get end-to-end encryption by default.”

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic