the boss of Whatsapp defends the encryption of messages in the face of a European bill

Whatsapp, the messaging application belonging to the Meta group (Facebook, Instagram), remains opposed to any law requiring it to circumvent or weaken the encryption protecting messages exchanged by its two billion users. This is what the World his boss, Will Cathcart, while the European Union (EU) develops the Child Abuse Regulation (CSAR), a controversial draft regulation to combat child ography content. Certain versions of the text, which is still under discussion, would in fact require the platforms like Whatsapp to search for this type of content by inspecting the messages sent by their users, in order to report them to the authorities.

“This involves scanning all private communications in Europe. It’s like asking construction companies to put a camera or microphone in every house they build. People would be horrified at such a proposition. For me, this is what some want to do for digital services”says Will Cathcart.

All messages (text, photo, video, etc.) exchanged on Whatsapp are protected by so-called “end-to-end” encryption, which means that the company cannot read them. Even solutions allowing Whatsapp to maintain this encryption, by inspecting messages directly on the user’s phone before they are sent and encrypted, do not satisfy its CEO.

One million reports

“The idea of ​​encryption is that you can send a message to a source, to your doctor or your spouse, and only the two of you know what is said. Coming back to my comparison: if I told you that the cameras in your house will have software that decides whether the video should be sent to the authorities, you would immediately have a ton of questions: What is that software? How is it designed? What mistakes does he make? Can it activate in other circumstances? Having encryption but still scanning the content is like reading everyone’s messages or listening to all their calls”argues Will Cathcart.

Read the decryption: Article reserved for our subscribers Why the proposed European regulation to combat online child ography is widely criticized

The boss of Whatsapp also highlights the actions already taken by his company to fight against child ography content, boasting in particular of having, in 2022, made more reports to the American authorities “that Tiktok, Apple, Snapchat and Twitter combined”.

Whatsapp has in fact, according to figures from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Childrenthe organization to which American companies are required to report any possibly child ography content, sent just over a million notifications – compared to 937,000 for its competitors –, in particular thanks to reports made by its users. “The fact that we are an encrypted service but send more notifications than other companies shows that there is room for improvement for the industry, without having to take drastic action ending online privacy »believes Will Cathcart.

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