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WhatsApp announces encryption for chat backups: Here’s what changes for users in India

The company’s decision to bring chat backups under encryption could hurt law enforcement agencies and governments.

WhatsApp will now let users add an additional layer of encryption to their chat backups on iCloud and Google Drive by letting users add an encryption key to the backup, the parent company Facebook announced on September 10. This essentially means that without being able to produce a key or having access to a user's unlocked phone, users' messages will be out of reach for law enforcement or government officials — and even WhatsApp itself. "Our primary focus is on protecting people’s messages. That's why we've used end-to-end encryption for messages in-transit, why we’re adding easy ways for private messages to disappear, and now strong backup encryption to protect the messages you want to keep," WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart said on Twitter (hyperlink supplied). "Some governments continue to suggest using their powers to require companies to offer weaker security. We think that’s backwards: we should demand more security from companies for people’s sensitive information, not less." The feature will be available on iOS and Android in "coming weeks," Cathcart added. Cathcart's reference to governments using their power to require weak security squarely describes India. WhatsApp has sued the government over Rule 4(2) of the Information Technology (Intermediary Liability and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 that requires messaging platforms like WhatsApp to enable "traceability," a requirement that the company argues would force it to break the encryption to which its messages are subjected. [caption id="attachment_145277" align="aligncenter" width="720"] Source: Will Cathcart, via Twitter[/caption] How backup encryption works WhatsApp will generate a 64…

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I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

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