The proposed changes make it unsafe for users and these can dilute WhatsApp security. Find out what this proposed change is, and why it is dangerous.
The European Union (EU) has proposed new changes to give other small messaging apps a fighting chance against giants like WhatsApp, but if Will Cathcart, head of WhatsApp, is to be believed, it will only result in making the messaging platform unsafe for its users and can result in them getting hacked by cybercriminals. The suggested proposal is part of EU’s Digital Markets Act and it intends to force major instant messaging applications to adopt interoperability so that a user can send messages to different apps from one platform. The EU believes that lack of interoperability has resulted in monopoly of the giants and discourages newer applications from entering the market. However, the downside of this measure will be dilution of the end-to-end encryption, a feature which is crucial for the security WhatsApp provides its users.
Speaking to the Platformer, Cathcart said, “I have a lot of concerns around whether this will break or severely undermine privacy, whether it’ll break a lot of the safety work we’ve done that we’re particularly proud of, and whether it’ll actually lead to more innovation and competitiveness”.
EU Proposal can open the floodgates for WhatsApp hackers
The concerns around privacy and digital security as an unintended consequence of the Digital Markets Act was not voiced only by Cathcart. The former chief security officer of Facebook, Alex Stamos told The Verge, “How do you tell your phone who you want to talk to, and how does the phone find that person? There is no way to allow for end-to-end encryption without trusting every provider to handle the identity management…If the goal is for all of the messaging systems to treat each other’s users exactly the same, then this is a privacy and security nightmare”.
The end-to-end encryption has come out as a major hurdle to solve before the European Union can take the next steps towards interoperability of messaging services. Another problem could be stopping the spread of hate speech, misinformation and spam. Currently, WhatsApp bans millions of accounts every month for sending spam and hateful messages. With interoperability at the helm, how other apps handle such accounts will also be a concern.
“We’ve seen a lot of apps that just go out and market themselves as bulk messaging on the WhatsApp network. What happens when one of those comes in wants to interoperate,” said Cathcart.