Facebook Inc (FB.O) has announced that it has started the trial of end-to-end encryption on the Facebook Messenger application to ensure better privacy protection.
The company is now testing this feature on a limited number of devices. When made available in full-scale, end-to-end encryption will benefit over 900 million Messenger users worldwide.
This decision comes at a time when there is a huge global controversy regarding how much user privacy a law enforcement authority can violate and the policies of technology companies to protect their respective users from prospective snooping.
End-to-end encryption has become a norm for messaging applications like the Apple’s iMessage, Viber, Telegram, LINE, Wickr and Signal. Just before three months, Facebook rolled out this feature to WhatsApp, which has over 1 billion global users.
Facebook Messenger powered by Signal Protocol
The Facebook Messenger will be equipped with the encryption technology which operates on a protocol called Signal. Open Whisper Systems, a private organization have fabricated the protocol. The same protocol powers the encryption in WhatsApp Messenger.
Matthew Green, a cryptologist from Johns Hopkins University seems to be pleased while reviewing an early version of end-to-end encryption on the Facebook Messenger.
Facebook will not turn on this feature by default in the Messenger as the way it did with WhatsApp. Users have to switch on this feature manually to benefit from the added security.
This is because, a lot of highly popular features of Facebook Messenger will be incompatible with the end-to-end encryption protocol and with encryption turned on, users will not be able to get access to those additional features.
This added security feature will also not work on multiple devices. This will give users less freedom by restricting them to use only a single device to read and send the encrypted messages. The company also mentioned that sending video files or making payment is also not supported by this encryption protocol.
Experts have advised Facebook to turn on encryption by default after it gets past all the hurdles it is facing now.