Facebook Insists No Security ‘Backdoor’ Is Planned for WhatsApp

An anonymous reader shares a report: Billions of people use the messaging tool WhatsApp, which added end-to-end encryption for every form of communication available on its platform back in 2016. This ensures that conversations between users and their contacts — whether they occur via text or voice calls — are private, inaccessible even to the company itself. But several recent posts published to Forbes’ blogging platform call WhatsApp’s future security into question. The posts, which were written by contributor Kalev Leetaru, allege that Facebook, WhatsApp’s parent company, plans to detect abuse by implementing a feature to scan messages directly on people’s phones before they are encrypted. The posts gained significant attention: A blog post by technologist Bruce Schneier rehashing one of the Forbes posts has the headline “Facebook Plans on Backdooring WhatsApp.” It is a claim Facebook unequivocally denies.

“We haven’t added a backdoor to WhatsApp,” Will Cathcart, WhatsApp’s vice president of product management, wrote in a statement. “To be crystal clear, we have not done this, have zero plans to do so, and if we ever did, it would be quite obvious and detectable that we had done it. We understand the serious concerns this type of approach would raise, which is why we are opposed to it.”

UPDATE: Later Friday technologist Bruce Schneier wrote that after reviewing responses from WhatsApp, he’s concluded that reports of a pre-encryption backdoor are a false alarm. He also says he got an equally strong confirmation from WhatsApp’s Privacy Policy Manager Nate Cardozo, who Facebook hired last December from EFF. “He basically leveraged his historical reputation to assure me that WhatsApp, and Facebook in general, would never do something like this.”

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