WhatsApp is the latest tech company to face off with authorities in the US over the use of unbreakable encryption. The US Department of Justice has reportedly raised concerns that encryptions deployed by the messaging app are making it hard for it proceeds with wiretaps.
Investigators have until now been unable to proceed with ongoing investigations that require wiretaps of some WhatsApp conversations. According to reports, some officials are inclined at asking judges to force the Facebook-owned app to decrypt some of the information in question.
The standoff has already spilled over to Senate where legislators have started working on legislation that will compel tech companies to comply with court orders. The draft bill proposes penalties for firms that fail to comply with such orders.
WhatsApp began end to end encryption in 2014 after failing an Electronic Frontier Foundations mobile app security test. Having learnt hard lessons the tech company has been busy on the encryption front as it looks to guarantee users privacy. Its push on this front has not gone well with law enforcement agencies which are finding it hard to access some info sent through the app.
DOJ vs. WhatsApp
The Department of Justice has sent the messaging app numerous request asking for assistance in decrypting some of the information in question. The app has so far stood its ground maintaining it cannot intercept or access messages sent between two accounts.
The Department of Justice has yet to decide on its next course of action having been dealt a major blow on wiretaps on the app. A court fight could be in the offing as WhatsApp maintains its tough stance against wiretaps. A case seeking to compel the app to open up its platform would open a new front of disputes on matters pertaining to encryption security and privacy.
Apple’s standoff with the FBI continues to divide opinion. Some fear that the justice department forcing the iPhone maker to open up an iPhone 5C in question could set a bad presence. Such a move could give the government the edge in forcing the likes of WhatsApp to remove encryption from user’s accounts.