End-to-end encryption now covers Messenger video and audio calls

End-to-end encryption now covers Messenger video and audio calls
In this era where privacy reigns, end-to-end encryption (E2EE) is an important feature because it keeps messages private and only the sender and the recipient know what it says. It prevents law enforcement, employees of the platform being used, and others from reading something that was not meant for their eyes. Facebook Messenger has offered end-to-end encryption for messages since 2016 and Facebook has announced in a blog post that it is now extending this privacy protection to both Messenger voice and video calls.

As Facebook pointed out on Friday, 150 million video calls a day are handled by Messenger, and voice calls are now being added to this chat mode to protect both video and audio calls with the same encryption protection. Facebook states that "End-to-end encryption is already widely used by apps like WhatsApp to keep personal conversations safe from hackers and criminals. It’s becoming the industry standard and works like a lock and key, where just you and the people in the chat or call have access to the conversation.

Facebook will soon offer end-to-end encryption on both video and voice calls

The content of your messages and calls in an end-to-end encrypted conversation is protected from the moment it leaves your device to the moment it reaches the receiver’s device. This means that nobody else, including Facebook, can see or listen to what’s sent or said. Keep in mind, you can report an end-to-end encrypted message to us if something’s wrong."

Facebook also announced that it updated its disappearing messages feature within its E2EE chats. With the newly updated controls, users will be given more options as to when they want their messages to disappear. The new range runs from just five seconds to as long as 24 hours. Not only will these messages be encrypted, they could also be set to fall off of the platform by the time five seconds can be counted.

Over the next few weeks, Facebook will test end-to-end encrypted group chats and calls in Messenger. This includes both video and voice calls for family members that have an existing chat thread or are already connected. As noted by Facebook, "We’ll also begin a test for your delivery controls to work with your end-to-end encrypted chats. That way, you can prevent unwanted interactions by deciding who can reach your chats list, who goes to your requests folder, and who can’t message you at all."

Instagram users will also share in this bid to expand end-to-end encryption. In certain countries, adult Instagram users will be allowed to opt-in to end-to-end encrypted messages and calls for one-on-one conversations. You will need to have an existing chat or be following each other to start an encrypted DM (the same conditions needed to start an end-to-end encrypted voice or video call in Messenger).

Facebook points out that you can always block someone that you don't want to DM with. The option to make video and voice calls end-to-end encrypted on Messenger, along with updated controls for disappearing messages, will start rolling out today. "People expect their messaging apps to be secure and private, and with these new features, we’re giving them more control over how private they want their calls and chats to be," Facebook says.

U.S. DOJ applauds encryption but not when it deals with criminal investigations

The U.S. Justice Department under William Barr in 2020 issued a statement along with Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom in favor of strong encryption. A statement issued by this group, called the Five Eyes, said that end-to-end encryption "plays a crucial role in protecting personal data, privacy, intellectual property, trade secrets and cyber security...and also serves a vital purpose in repressive states to protect journalists, human rights defenders and other vulnerable people."

Yet just the year before, the Trump administration reportedly weighed the idea of outlawing end-to-end encryption, and there was talk about the DOJ asking Apple to add a backdoor to the iPhone that would allow law enforcement to read certain messages related to investigations of drug trafficking, terrorism, and child pornography. Ironically, Apple itself plans on scanning iPhones seeking images that could be considered child abuse including child porn.
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