Silicon Valley giants exploring new encrypted messaging platforms


Tech firm Apple has received plenty of support over its encryption battle with FBI from other leading tech companies, including Facebook, Google and Snapchat.

In a recently published Guardian article, it's been revealed that these businesses are working on increasing their privacy technologies in the wake of the controversial Apple vs. FBI case.

Many tech companies have already shown their support for Apple, by signing court briefs, which could be seen as antagonising authorities in their efforts to encrypt their platforms.

Facebook's Whatsapp messaging service, for example, already has a relatively secure system but will expand its services to encrypt voice calls and add extra privacy settings. Snapchat and Google are also working to encrypt their messaging services.

These new projects were being talked about before Apple entered into a legal battle with the Department of Justice. Many of these companies had already identified encrypted messaging platforms as a business advantage, but they have been pushed into the spotlight over the recent San Bernardino case.

It's not clear how far efforts to encrypt platforms will go as the US government is fiercely against more encryption. Two US senators have already written draft legislation that would penalise companies that were unable to offer readable data to legal bodies. Barack Obama has also made the case clear for data to be handed over, stating in a recent speech: “If government can’t get in, then everyone’s walking around with a Swiss bank account in their pocket, right?”

The battle of encryption has reached a critical point according to the article. On one side are leading tech companies willing to increase privacy, on the other, governments and legal authorities wanting access to track dangerous criminals and terrorist organisations. Currently, US national security officials view the availability of encryption as a vital aid in Islamic State's (IS) recruitment drive.

One way the battle can be defused, the article argues, is if these large companies work in collaboration with government agencies and there are already signs that closer partnerships are taking place. Recently, Facebook's chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, has spoken publicly about how companies can help combat IS online. Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet, Google's parent company, has joined a Defense Department group aimed at discussing how tech can aid in future battles.

Rather than draw battle lines, the article suggests, that collaboration between tech companies and governments must take place in the effort to combat IS and other terrorist organisations.

About Lee Hazell

Lee Hazell is a cyber security consultant with a keen interest in anything tech or security related. Follow Lee on .

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