Are WhatsApp End-To-End Conversations Tracked by WhatsApp?
Despite this, WhatsApp was recently acquired by Facebook. As a result, many WhatsApp users are concerned about whether their end-to-end encrypted chats are still safe. In this article, we take a look at WhatsApp’s current policies and delve into whether anything has changed since the Facebook acquisition.
WhatsApp has cared about their user’s privacy since the inception of the company. So much so, that not only do they make their end-to-end encryption a default feature for all users, but they make their privacy policies and details about their encryption as clear as possible on their website.
On WhatsApp’s website, it states; “Privacy and security is in our DNA, which is why we have end-to-end encryption in the latest versions of our app. When end-to-end encrypted, your messages, photos, videos, voice messages, documents, status updates and calls are secured from falling into the wrong hands.”
With their encryption methods, only you and who you’re talking to can see what messages, photos, videos, and other media that’s being shared. Not even WhatsApp can view the messages once they are sent through their own application.
WhatsApp also has a system in place to help you verify that your messages are locked and encrypted. You can learn more about how it works here, but essentially a visual representation of the encryption key for each of your chats can be found by following the steps below.
- Open the chat.
- Tap on the name of the contact to open the contact info screen.
- Tap Encryption to view the QR code and 60-digit number.
The encryption always happens on your device, before the message is sent. Once the message is sent, it is locked and cannot be viewed. When the messages reach the recipient, the recipient’s device will have the required key to unlock the message. This key is only available locally on the recipient’s smartphone.
Cooperation With Law Enforcement
Like any company, WhatsApp must follow certain legal procedures. WhatsApp has a number of procedures they must follow if law enforcement requests it.
On their website, they mention that they do disclose account records “Solely in accordance with our terms of service and applicable law, including the federal Stored Communications Act (“SCA”), 18 U.S.C. Sections 2701-2712. Under US law.”
However, WhatsApp will only approve law enforcement requests if they are presented with a valid subpoena, a court order, or an issued search warrant.
The Facebook-owned company doesn’t usually hold data on its users, but if requested by law enforcement through proper means, they’ll keep hold of data on the requested account for up to 90 days.
Even then, the messages and media sent from that user will remain encrypted. Law enforcement may still have access to metadata – this includes details about who messages are being sent to, when they’re being sent, and how often they’re being sent, but it doesn’t include the contents of the messages.
What About Facebook?
It seems that even though Facebook now own WhatsApp, the company is still giving WhatsApp free reign when it comes to preparing their own security and privacy methods.
For now, WhatsApp is a safe, encrypted chat platform that offers far better security than its competitors.
Other options, such as Kik, don’t offer as good data protection as WhatsApp, although these companies still have a number of privacy policies in place that should stop them from accessing your data through message tracking or SMS tracking.