Technology News

WhatsApp denies report on alleged security backdoor that allows conversations to be intercepted

The Facebook-owned messaging service said that it had been transparent about the government requests it received to override end-to-end encryption.

WhatsApp on Friday denied reports that suggested there was a security backdoor to the messaging service’s end-to-end encryption protocol. A report published in The Guardian on Friday alleged that it was possible for Facebook and other applications to intercept and read entire conversations on the app.

“An intentional design decision in WhatsApp that prevents people from losing millions of messages is a backdoor allowing governments to force WhatsApp to decrypt message streams,” The Guardian report had said. However, a WhatsApp spokesperson denied the claim as false. “WhatsApp does not give governments a backdoor into its systems and would fight any government request to create a backdoor. It offers people notifications to alert them to potential security risks,” the spokesperson said.

The messaging service further highlighted the technical white paper it has published on its encryption design, in which the Facebook-owned company says it has been “transparent about the government requests it receives”. It has published data on such requests in the Facebook Government Requests Report.

WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption is based on technology that scrambles messages in a way that requires keys to unscramble them. These keys are shared only between the phones sending messages, and even WhatsApp does not have access to them. However, new research published in The Guardian suggests that while users are offline, WhatsApp has the power to change these keys, making them much less secure.

Cryptography and security researcher Tobias Boelter, who found this alleged security flaw, said the company could use this backdoor to access entire conversations. The Facebook-owned messaging service rolled out end-to-end encryption across all devices in April 2016.

We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Watch Ruchir's journey: A story that captures the impact of accessible technology

Accessible technology has the potential to change lives.

“Technology can be a great leveller”, affirms Ruchir Falodia, Social Media Manager, TATA CLiQ. Out of the many qualities that define Ruchir as a person, one that stands out is that he is an autodidact – a self-taught coder and lover of technology.

Ruchir’s story is one that humanises technology - it has always played the role of a supportive friend who would look beyond his visual impairment. A top ranker through school and college, Ruchir would scan course books and convert them to a format which could be read out to him (in the absence of e-books for school). He also developed a lot of his work ethos on the philosophy of Open Source software, having contributed to various open source projects. The access provided by Open Source, where users could take a source code, modify it and distribute their own versions of the program, attracted him because of the even footing it gave everyone.

That is why I like being in programming. Nobody cares if you are in a wheelchair. Whatever be your physical disability, you are equal with every other developer. If your code works, good. If it doesn’t, you’ll be told so.

— Ruchir.

Motivated by the objectivity that technology provided, Ruchir made it his career. Despite having earned degree in computer engineering and an MBA, friends and family feared his visual impairment would prove difficult to overcome in a work setting. But Ruchir, who doesn’t like quotas or the ‘special’ tag he is often labelled with, used technology to prove that differently abled persons can work on an equal footing.

As he delved deeper into the tech space, Ruchir realised that he sought to explore the human side of technology. A fan of Agatha Christie and other crime novels, he wanted to express himself through storytelling and steered his career towards branding and marketing – which he sees as another way to tell stories.

Ruchir, then, migrated to Mumbai for the next phase in his career. It was in the Maximum City that his belief in technology being the great leveller was reinforced. “The city’s infrastructure is a challenging one, Uber helped me navigate the city” says Ruchir. By using the VoiceOver features, Ruchir could call an Uber wherever he was and move around easily. He reached out to Uber to see if together they could spread the message of accessible technology. This partnership resulted in a video that captures the essence of Ruchir’s story: The World in Voices.


It was important for Ruchir to get rid of the sympathetic lens through which others saw him. His story serves as a message of reassurance to other differently abled persons and abolishes some of the fears, doubts and prejudices present in families, friends, employers or colleagues.

To know more about Ruchir’s journey, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Uber and not by the Scroll editorial team.