The instant messaging service WhatsApp will now encrypt all its users’ communications.
The 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.
The company, which is owned by Facebook, said protecting private communications was one of its “core beliefs”.
WhatsApp said: “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. No one can see inside that message. Not cybercriminals. Not hackers. Not oppressive regimes. Not even us."
The new setting is enabled by default and users with the latest version of the app were notified about the change when sending messages this week.
Amnesty International welcomed the move. It said in a statement: “WhatsApp's roll out of the Signal Protocol, providing end to end encryption for its one billion users worldwide, is a major boost for people's ability to express themselves and communicate without fear."
This is a huge victory for privacy and free speech, especially for activists and journalists who depend on strong and trustworthy communications to carry out their work without putting their lives at greater risk."
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