WhatsApp says it’s now using a powerful form of encryption to protect the security of photos, videos, group chats and voice calls in addition to the text messages sent by its more than a billion users around the globe.
The popular service owned by Facebook began applying “end-to-end” encryption to standard messages sent on Android smartphones in 2014. After gradually expanding to other formats, WhatsApp confirmed Tuesday that its encryption now works with all forms of communication on its app for Android phones, Apple’s iPhones and other devices.
Encryption has become a hotly debated subject, with some U.S. authorities warning that criminals and violent extremists can use it to hide their tracks. WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum, who grew up in the Soviet Union, says he believes consumers should have easy-to-use encryption as protection against hackers and identity thieves, as well as “rogue” governments that spy on their own citizens.