WhatsApp touches two-billion user base, CEO pitches for strong encryption

Topics whatsapp

WhatsApp -- which has been criticised by rival Telegram for not being as secure as it claims to be -- said strong encryption is a necessity in modern life

Over 25 per cent of the world's population -- or two billion people globally -- now uses WhatsApp. In February 2018, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had said WhatsApp had 1.5 billion monthly active users (MAUs) who are exchanging nearly 60 billion messages on a single day.

India is among the biggest markets for WhatsApp. In July last year, WhatsApp had said it has over 400 million users in India. The Facebook-owned company on Wednesday said WhatsApp supports more than two billion users around the world, and asserted that its platform is secured with end-to-end encryption by default.

"We know that the more we connect, the more we have to protect. As we conduct more of our lives online, protecting our conversations is more important than ever," it said in a blog.

Last year, WhatsApp had received flak after an Israeli spyware was allegedly used to target journalists, lawyers and human rights activists through its platform. In fact last week, Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had slammed WhatsApp saying identification of message originators remained an outstanding concern with the messaging platform.

He had questioned how millions of messages are generated and replicated on the "same day, same issue, same geographical area".

"...but I have one problem still going on. Who is the initiator of that sin... You must remember, India is emerging as a big global power and there are forces that want to create hurdles...but you don't allow your platform to be abused for that, that is my appeal," the minister had said.

In October, WhatsApp had said it was suing NSO Group, an Israeli surveillance firm, that is reportedly behind the technology that helped unnamed entities' spies to hack into phones of roughly 1,400 users globally, including 121 in India. In the days that followed, the Indian government had said it wants to conduct an audit of WhatsApp's security systems.

In its blog post on Wednesday, WhatsApp emphasised that every private message sent using its platform is secured with end-to-end encryption by default.

"Strong encryption acts like an unbreakable digital lock that keeps the information you send over WhatsApp secure, helping protect you from hackers and criminals," it added.

It said messages are only kept on the user's phone.

"...no one in between can read your messages or listen to your calls, not even us. Your private conversations stay between you," it said.

WhatsApp -- which has been criticised by rival Telegram for not being as secure as it claims to be -- said strong encryption is a necessity in modern life.

"We will not compromise on security because that would make people less safe. For even more protection, we work with top security experts, employ industry leading technology to stop misuse as well as provide controls and ways to report issues - without sacrificing privacy," WhatsApp said.

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