Encryption can be seen as something of a double edged sword, where it keeps the bad guys out from snooping through out stuff, but at the same time it also keeps the good guys out from potentially uncovering key details and evidence in crimes and terrorist plots, and depending on your views, encryption can be seen as a either a good or bad thing.


Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg is clearly in the former camp, where she thinks it’s a good thing. Speaking to Desert Island Discs, Sandberg was quoted as saying that encryption features like those found in WhatsApp, are there for a reason, and that removing them would effectively be playing into the hands of terrorists and helping them.

According to Sandberg, “The goal for governments is to get as much information as possible, and so when there are message services like WhatsApp that are encrypted the message itself is encrypted but the metadata is not. Meaning that when you send me a message we don’t know what that message says but we know that you contacted me.”

“If people move off those encrypted services and go to encrypted services in countries that won’t share the metadata the government actually has less information, not more. And so as technology evolves these are complicated conversations. We are in close conversations working through the issues all around the world,” Sandberg also highlights how Facebook has over 4,500 people working around the clock to stop extremists from hacking their site, with more being hired later this year.

The call to decrypt services like WhatsApp isn’t new and we have seen other companies such as Apple being subjected to similar requests. In fact recently it was reported that the Australian government is looking to convince Apple that a backdoor to its software is necessary.

Filed in General. Read more about Apps, Facebook, Privacy, Security and Whatsapp.

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