WhatsApp has launched its first major privacy-focused advertising campaign in the UK.
This is following the major backlash against their changes to WhatApps terms and conditions, which was announced earlier this year.
WhatsApp has said it is holding firm to its stand against ongoing pressure from governments, which includes the UK, to compromise on how it encrypts messages end to end.
Authorities should “demand more security” rather than less. WhatsApps boss Will Cathcart has told the BBC.
“The first step of keeping people safe is, you have to have strong security, and we think governments shouldn’t be out there trying to encourage tech companies to offer weak security,” he said.
“they should be out there trying to encourage or even mandate that companies offer the strongest security possible”.
WhatsApp’s marketing campaign is set to run internationally, from Monday 21st June 2021 beginning with the UK and Germany.
WhatsApp uses end-to-end encryption, this means message can only be read on the device that send the message and the device that receives the message. This means that these messages can be read by Law enforcement or even Facebook themselves, the parent company of WhatsApp.
The UKs Home Secretary Priti Patel has previously described the use of end-to-end encryption as “not acceptable” in the fight against sharing of illegal content.
However personal liberties should not be compromised for the many because of the few. Getting this happy medium is difficult for both governments and tech companies.
The home secretary, in April said she wants to see it used “in a way in which is also consistent with public protection and child safety” but didn’t elaborate on how this was to be achieved.
Facebook as stated that it does intend to roll out encryption more broadly across its existing services.
WhatsApp is currently blocked in china due to its encryption security, thus not allowing the Chinese government to monitor its citizens, and is currently suing the Indian government over its new digital rules making it violate its privacy rules. India makes up at least 400 million of its 2 billion global users.
Mr Cathcart said he “lives with the reality” that more countries could also choose to block the platform as tech sector regulations tighten around the world.
The global fight against illegal content
While the firm cannot see the content of messages, it has developed other tools which help it block illegal material and widely-shared misinformation.
WhatsApp bans two million accounts every month, and in 2020 the platform reported 300,000 images to the National Centre for Missing Exploited Children, Mr Cathcart said.
It does this using a combination of reports from message recipients, and machine-learning using the unencrypted data that WhatsApp can see – such as the volume of messages an account sends and how many groups it joins.
Messages that have been forwarded lots of times before are also now flagged, and there are limits on how many people one user can share the same message with.
While all of these tools are a step in the right direction on the combat against the filtering of illegal content, governments around the world want more access.
Terms and conditions confusion.
In January, thousands of users threatened to leave WhatsApp, wrongly thinking it was going to start sharing messaging data with Facebook following an announcement about changes to its terms and conditions.
There were false claims that the privacy of personal messages was about to change, and thousands of alarmed people flocked to rival services such as Signal and Telegram. (BBC)
In fact the changes are mainly related to enabling companies to accept payments via WhatsApp.
Will Cathcart said the firm took responsibility for the “confusion” the announcement had created.
“To reiterate, nothing about the privacy of people’s personal conversations changed in our update,” he said.