After championing for users’ privacy earlier last week, messaging company WhatsApp has notified its users that the end-to-end encryption it offers for messages and media on its app, will not remain so if the data is stored as a backup on Google’s servers.
In an update, the company said, “Media and messages you back up aren’t protected by WhatsApp end-to-end encryption while in Google Drive.”
The Indian government had asked WhatsApp chief Chris Daniels to curb as well as trace fake news on its platform. During the meeting, Union minister of IT Ravi Shankar Prasad also asked Daniels to work closely with law enforcement agencies in India and create public awareness campaigns to prevent misuse of the app.
Prasad had added that the company could face abetment charges if no action is taken.
However, soon after the company issued a statement saying it cannot build a software to trace the origin of a message on its platform.
A WhatsApp spokesperson said, “Building traceability would undermine end-to-end encryption and the private nature of WhatsApp, creating the potential for serious misuse. WhatsApp will not weaken the privacy protections we provide.”
WhatsApp provides end-to-end encryption, which means that the message a user sends can only be read by the recipient and vice versa. Further, the company guarantees protection to users from third parties trying to eavesdrop on conversations and even prevents itself from reading the messages.
The spokesperson emphasised that people rely on WhatsApp for all kinds of “sensitive conversations”, including with their doctors, banks, and families. WhatsApp has more than 200 Mn users in India.
It is to be noted that on August 16, the company had announced that it has signed a pact with Google to allow users to store messages on the internet company’s cloud storage offering – drive, without any quota from November 12.
Till now, a user’s data could be stored on Google drive but this was counted within the 15 GB free space that a Google account offered.
In 2017, the company had explained to users that data of the messaging app stored on Google drive is not encrypted. However, its end-to-end encryption has been questioned by authorities.
[The development was reported by ET.]