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End-to-end encryption: Both a boon and a bane

When Facebook-owned mobile messaging service WhatsApp announced to turn on end-to-end encryption for its over one billion monthly active users last month, CEO Mark Zuckerberg hailed this as an “important milestone for the WhatsApp community.” It means that for WhatsApp users, every call they make and every message, photo, video, file and voice message they send, will be end-to-end encrypted by default, allowing users to protect their conversations from being hacked.
“So when you send a message, the only person who can read it is the person or group chat that you send that message to. No one can see inside that message. Not cyber criminals . Not hackers. Not oppressive regimes. Not even us,” said Jan Koum, CEO and co-founder of WhatsApp, in a blog post.
The move — coming after the FBI-Apple tussle over unlocking an iPhone used by a terrorist — has not gone well with cyber security experts in India. According to them, this may be a boon for terror groups operating in India and across the border as this ensures that their communications cannot be intercepted as they connect.
“WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption provides more encouragement to terror groups to be more bold in their communications in coded languages which can then be transmitted without the fear of being cracked on the way,” warns Pavan Duggal, one of the nation’s top cyber law experts

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