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Popular messaging service Whatsapp has just taken a big step towards customer privacy by enabling full end-to-end encryption for all communications. This means nobody but the sender and recipient(s) can read messages sent via the app.

In light of the recent Apple-FBI conflict, this is a big show of support from Whatsapp in favor of customer privacy. Like Apple’s iMessages, all communications via the app are completely safe from prying eyes. While the Department of Justice isn’t happy with the move, arguing that it creates a safe space for criminals to plot and scheme, it’s a positive step for consumer privacy.

In a statement on its blog, the team at Whatsapp explain the premise:

“The idea is simple: when you send a message, the only person who can read it is the person or group chat that you send that message to. No one can see inside that message. Not cybercriminals. Not hackers. Not oppressive regimes. Not even us. End-to-end encryption helps make communication via WhatsApp private – sort of like a face-to-face conversation.”

The feature has been activated automatically worldwide – if you use Whatsapp, you may have noticed a message pop up to explain that all your messages are now encrypted end-to-end. This feature is automatic and can’t be disabled.

Interestingly, Facebook Messenger does not utilize this type of encryption, despite Facebook’s public support of Apple’s privacy stance and the fact that Whatsapp is owned by Facebook. End-to-end encryption used to be a specialist feature of messaging apps, but as the general public becomes more aware of the dangers posed by cybercriminals – and even government snooping – we may see more and more apps follow this move.