According to British press reports, the assailant involved in last week’s London terror attacks that left three pedestrians and one police officer dead — and dozens more wounded — used WhatsApp just minutes before the rampage.
But because the messages sent by and to attacker Khalid Masood are encrypted by the popular messaging app, officials are unable to access them.
“We need to make sure that organizations like WhatsApp — and there are plenty of others like that — don’t provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other,” Britain’s Home Secretary Amber Rudd said in multiple interviews Sunday.
Whether you use the app or not, here are some things to know about WhatsApp and the encryption debate:
WhatsApp is a popular messaging app with end-to-end encrypted instant messaging that can be used on various platforms, including Android, iPhone and Windows smartphones, and Mac or Windows PCs.
Created in 2009 and later acquired by Facebook in 2014, the app uses your phone’s internet connection to send messages so you can avoid texting fees.
What can you do with the app?
In addition to making calls, sending messages, photos, videos, files and voice messages to individuals or groups, WhatsApp rolled out some new features in 2017.
Now, the app includes a Snapchat story-like feature, which allows users to update their “status” using pictures, GIFs and videos.
You can also swipe up to reply to your friends’ statuses.
According to Facebook’s earnings call on Feb 2, 2017, WhatsApp had…