WhatsApp Encryption Raises Ethical Questions

According to WhatsApp founders Brian Acton and Jan Koum, encryption is just one of the essential tools governments and companies use to promote security and safety in this new age of digital reform.

Growing up in the USSR, Koum recalls that the lack of free speech is what pushed his family into moving to California in 1992 when he was about 16 years old. Apparently, his mother and father rarely used the telephones because of the fear of them being taped and he was very aware of what it’s like to be spied on. He reminisced as to what it was like in his home-town in Ukraine and the harsh conditions they had to endure in a closed off society. He describes it as being like the world of 1984 but actually real.

On the other side of the spectrum however, Home Secretary Amber Rudd describes encryption as being ‘’totally unacceptable’’ because of this will allow terrorists to have a hiding place from the law and as such this has been subject to much debate in recent times. Especially on the part where governments should be allowed to force companies to allow back doors into their services.

Simply put, encryption is an end-to-end method of mixing up messages, photos files and videos so that only the people with the relevant keys are able to decipher them. As far as WhatsApp is concerned , this means that only the person that sends the message and the person who receives it are able to read it. Not even WhatsApp staff are able to access the messages from the users of the app.

Although there has been much discussion on the ethics of employing end-to-end encryption, it is pretty clear that Jan Koum has a personal implication in the encryption process of WhatsApp and not just a business one.

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