The instant messaging service has announced that it will now use end to end encryption for all its user data, making it unreadable if intercepted by criminals.
The company, which is owned by Facebook, claims that protecting private communication is one of its core beliefs. Investing in end to end encryption scrambles the data as it leaves the sender’s device and can then only be decrypted by the recipient’s device.
WhatsApp has also stated that file transfers and voice calls would also be encrypted. Users will be notified of the new update on Tuesday, where the encryption feature will be enabled as standard.
WhatsApp said: “The idea is simple: 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 cybercriminals. Not hackers. Not oppressive regimes. Not even us.”
Amnesty International called the move a “huge victory” for free speech.
“WhatsApp’s roll out of the Signal Protocol, providing end to end encryption for its one billion users worldwide, is a major boost for people’s ability to express themselves and communicate without fear,” the organisation said in a statement.
“This is a huge victory for privacy and free speech, especially for activists and journalists who depend on strong and trustworthy communications to carry out their work without putting their lives at greater risk.”