WhatsApp announced on Tuesday that all messages sent through the most recent version of its app will be fully encrypted.
The massive security upgrade comes just after Apple was asked by the US government to break the encryption on an iPhone that belonged to a terrorist involved in the San Bernardino shooting.
WhatsApp, which has more than one billion users globally and is owned by Facebook, is using an open-source encryption standard from Open Whisper Systems. The same encryption has been used by whistle blowers like Edward Snowden.
The Justice Department has considered pursing legal action against WhatsApp’s encryption efforts in recent months, according to The New York Times. Now that WhatsApp is encrypted, the company won’t be technically able to hand over records of its messages to governments.
The messaging app began adding encryption to its service back in 2013 but didn’t fully commit to implementing it with Open Whisper until 2014, reports Wired. WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum was the first prominent tech leader to voice support for Apple’s refusal to help the FBI create a back door into the iPhone in February of this year.
Now WhatsApp has firmly and resolutely planted its stake in the ground for encryption. I don’t really want to be in the business of observing conversations,” WhatsApp cofounder Brian Acton told Wired. “This is something our users wanted. Maybe not your average mom in middle America, but people on a worldwide basis."