The successful companies from the Silicon Valley, such as Snapchat, Google and Facebook, are currently working on their own strategies to bring more privacy to their technology, while at the same time Apple is using encryption to retaliate the US government.
WhatsApp Messenger, for instance, which is owned by Facebook, expanded its security through end-to-end encryption for their messages, following thus into the steps of other messaging apps that offer this type of security, such as Telegram, for example. But Facebook did not stop here when it comes to privacy, and recently added to their own Messenger app an alternative conversation called Secret Conversation, thus showing that they are indeed interested in protecting their users’ data, or so it seems.
Snapchat is also interested in bringing extra security to their extremely popular app, and the team is woking on a more secure message transmission. Google, in its turn, is putting all the effort in an encrypted project for their email services.
All this interest in this area began when Apple had a battle in the court with the Department of Justice. The issue at stake was whether the company should be allowing the authorities to hack the iPhone that belonged to a suspected terrorist. Public opinion has been divided in this case and there were some serious talks about how far should the government have access to users’ privacy, even when it came to matters of national safety. Barack Obama had also expressed his opinion at the time, declaring that he think some of the tech companies are indeed going too far.
WhatsApp has been continuously improving security for its users, and it’s somewhat personal for its founder, Jan Koum, who is born in Ukraine during the Soviet era. Koum even posted on Facebook that he supports Tim Cook, the Apple CEO, in his battle with the government, since everybody’s freedom and liberty are at stake.
The Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg, has had a public talk in the past about the manners in which tech companies can in fact help the West fight Isis online. Eric Schmidt, who is the exec chairman at Alphabet, the parent company that owns Google, worked with the Defense Department in order to see how the tech companies can bring some help in this never-ending battle.
The US security officials seem to believe that the new encryption trend is helping the Islamic State to gather up more recruits and use them in their fights. As such, for the tech companies it is a choice between being seen as helping in the fight against terrorism or as advocates for people’s privacy and thus as terrorist helpers.
Apple, who has been fighting this battle over encryption for two-years now, is constantly in touch with several security experts in order to upgrade their game and offer their users the best available encryption. Several months ago, Frederic Jacobs, who is a famous cryptographer and one of the coders who made Signal (one of the securest apps), made public the fact that he accepted a job at Apple and they will be working together. Even so, this is no easy task, to protect users’ data, so everybody should be careful in what they are sharing over the Internet and posting online.