End-to-End Encryption in Messaging Services and National Security—Case of WhatsApp Messenger

Author: Robert E. Endeley

The ubiquity of instant messaging services on mobile devices and their use of end-to-end encryption in safeguarding the privacy of their users have become a concern for some governments. WhatsApp messaging service has emerged as the most popular messaging app on mobile devices today. It uses end-to-end encryption which makes government and secret services efforts to combat organized crime, terrorists, and child pornographers technically impossible. Governments would like a “backdoor” into such apps, to use in accessing messages and have emphasized that they will only use the “backdoor” if there is a credible threat to national security. Users of WhatsApp have however, argued against a “backdoor”; they claim a “backdoor” would not only be an infringement of their privacy, but that hackers could also take advantage of it. In light of this security and privacy conflict between the end users of WhatsApp and government’s need to access messages in order to thwart potential terror attacks, this paper presents the advantages of maintaining E2EE in WhatsApp and why governments should not be allowed a “backdoor” to access users’ messages. This research presents the benefits encryption has on consumer security and privacy, and also on the challenges it poses to public safety and national security.


Journal: Journal of Information Security
DOI: 10.4236/jis.2018.91008 (PDF)
Paper Id: 81897 (metadata)

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