The company said that it will offer two ways to users to encrypt their chats backups on the cloud. The feature, which is totally optional, will allow users to lock their chat on Android and iOS. Users on the platform will soon see an option to generate a 64-digit encryption key in order to lock their chat backups. The users can either store the encryption key offline or in a password manager. Users can also create passwords for cloud-based ‘backup key vault’ and the password is not known by WhatsApp. The company said that users will be notified multiple times that WhatsApp won’t be able to restore their backup if they lose their 64-digit key. “There is no way we can restore backup chats of users if they lose their key. That is why we will ask users to make sure that they have saved their password before the setup is complete,” the company said. Also, the company has made it clear that once a user creates the encrypted backup, all previous backups will be deleted. “This is an automated process and users will not require taking any additional step for this,” a WhatsApp spokesperson was quoted as saying. This is a significant development as it will add another layer of privacy to chats. It is also likely to have far-reaching implications.
It is pertinent to mention that end-to-end encryption has been a topic of debate for a long as governments have been in favor of backdoors. Apple was reportedly pressured to not introduce such a feature to iCloud Backups after an investigation complained. Google has introduced the feature that allows users to encrypt their data stored in Google Drive. But the tech giant allegedly did not inform governments before rolling out the feature. Facebook and WhatsApp have also refused to discuss the topic when asked to comment on what kind of information they share with governments before providing this feature. “Messages sent by users are deeply personal and most of the things are happening online these days. In such situations, it is the responsibility of the companies to enhance securities being provided to users. We have done this and by introducing this feature, we will let users add an additional layer of security for their backup chats. This is totally optional but we are excited to provide this security feature to our users,” the company said. The instant-messaging app has confirmed that the feature will be gradually launched in every market where the app is operational. However, it is common for companies for to withhold such features in certain markets because of legal and regulatory reasons. For example, Apple will not be made available to users in certain authoritarian regimes likes China, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt.