Instant messaging service Whatsapp has announced it will encrypt all its users’ communications from Tuesday April 5th. With end-to-end encryption, messages are scrambled as they leave the sender’s device and can only be decrypted by the recipient’s device. It renders messages unreadable if they are intercepted, for example by criminals or law enforcement.
Encryption is the conversion of electronic data into another form, called ciphertext, which cannot be easily understood by anyone except authorized parties. End-to-end encryption (E2EE) is a method of secure communication that prevents third-parties from accessing data while it’s transferred from one end system or device to another.
This means that if any group of people uses the latest version of WhatsApp—whether that group spans two people or ten—the service will encrypt all messages, phone calls, photos, and videos moving among them. And that’s true on any phone that runs the app, from iPhones to Android phones to Windows phones to old school Nokia flip phones. With end-to-end encryption in place, not even WhatsApp’s employees can read the data that’s sent across its network. In other words, WhatsApp has no way of complying with a court order demanding access to the content of any message, phone call, photo, or video traveling through its service.