WhatsApp: the latest novelty is useless

WhatsApp discovers hot water and, after a year of controversy over user privacy, could launch a non-news for user privacy

The year 2021 began with the huge controversy over WhatsApp's new privacy policy, which caused a rain of criticism on the Facebook group (in the meantime become Meta), and is closing with the news that, in a future update of WhatsApp, could arrive the most useless novelty ever.

To give news is the now well-known site WABetaInfo, which in the course of 2021 has transformed from a reliable source, accurate and always reliable on the news coming on the most widely used chat app in the world, in a sort of press office detached from WhatsApp, whose main purpose is to highlight everything that the team of developers of the app is doing to improve the privacy and security of users' conversations. Even when, as in this case, the development team is doing absolutely nothing new, so nothing really useful.

WhatsApp: the most useless novelty of 2021

But let's get to the point, to the (un)news: according to WABetaInfo in a future version of WhatsApp will come the "end-to-end encryption indicators". What are they?

Simple tags in the Call and Status sections that tell us that "Your personal calls are end-to-end encrypted" and that "Your Status is end-to-end encrypted".

Is this new? Absolutely not because, as everyone knows by now, the entire flow of communication within WhatsApp (chats, photos and videos, statuses, links, attachments, calls and video calls) is encrypted with end-to-end encryption.

And this is certainly not since today, but since April 5, 2016. What's the point, then, of repeating it? More than fair question, given that other messaging apps, primarily Messenger and Instagram Direct from the same Facebook/Meta group, still don't have such robust and comprehensive encryption.

How end-to-end encryption works

WhatsApp is one of the few instant messaging apps that uses end-to-end encryption on all chats, all calls and all video calls.

This type of encryption involves the use of two pairs of cryptographic keys, one public and the other private, without which it is impossible to decrypt the data. The private keys, which are the ones that really guarantee the security of messages, are stored on the phone and never leave the smartphone.

For this reason, as it has happened to everyone, WhatsApp often warns the user that "Your security code has changed": it means that the user with whom we are chatting has updated or reinstalled the app, associated the app to another device (via WhatsApp multi-device) or changed phone and, consequently, the key has been updated.

No one, not even WhatsApp itself, can decrypt the chats between two users because the private keys are not saved on the servers, but on the phones. Whoever manages to intercept the communication, therefore, can't read it because he can't decipher it: he will only see a stream of incomprehensible data.