The instant messaging arena has seen an influx in the use of end-to-end encryption, with technology companies such as Whatsapp, Viber and Apple utilising this measure as a means of maintaining robust cyber-security and privacy.
End-to-end encryption has recently come under the spotlight, as it adopts close to an ‘all or nothing’ approach to the data protection of its users. Active end-to-end encryption means that not even the technology companies who provide the services can access communication data sent through its platform.
Recent events have reignited the discussion about whether this approach is too heavy-handed. Intelligence agencies argue that technology companies should enable them to insert a backdoor or other decryption mechanism that would allow them to obtain or survey user communication data.
The clear risk is that if technology companies weaken security and allow access, they also make it easier for other parties to potentially trawl through the communications of any user they desire.
In the data-centric age we are in, technology companies should ensure that they carefully consider the strength and extent of the protection that will be given to their users’ data. For some users, it may even be the deciding factor of whether they use the services or not.
Ultimately, the technology industry is moving in the direction of stronger data protection measures and end-to-end encryption presents a clear selling point to users.