The immensely popular WhatsApp of Facebook claims that it is shuffling all group chats, calls and messages. If this is true, it will not be able to follow the orders of the government, such as the FBI, if it wants to get information about users' data and communications.
As of April 6, all communications in WhatsApp are encrypted. This effectively means that all messages coursed through this service are jumbled up as they are channeled in its system and through the internet. The only one that will receive cohesive and understandable messages is the recipient, not any other third party.
"The idea is simple: when you send a message, the only person who can read it is the person or group chat that you send that message to," wrote Jan Koum and Brian Acton, WhatsApp co-founders in a blog post published on Tuesday.
This is welcome news to those who are concerned about privacy and security. That includes social activists, concerned journalists and dissidents. This is also a symbol of an intensifying trend that can lead to ubiquitous encryption that poses more challenges to law enforcement agencies in the United States as well as the rest of the world.
On the other side of the coin, this recent development can add more tension to the already high strung relationship between Silicon Valley and Washington. The high-stakes battle that raged between Apple and the FBI was not truly resolved with the dropping of the case by the government agency.
As it is, the issue is still unresolved: whether the government has a right to delve into the public's data and communications. Apple and all its backers in the tech industry are adamant in saying no.
WhatsApp's current mode of encryption will make it impossible for any government, local and abroad, with various tools and strategies in their hands, to steal instant messages and voice calls, even with a court order.