Open Whisper Systems partners with WhatsApp to provide end-to-end encryption

moxie0 on 18 Nov 2014

At Open Whisper Systems, our goal is to make private communication simple. For the past three years, we’ve been developing a modern, open source, strong encryption protocol for asynchronous messaging systems, designed to make seamless end-to-end encrypted messaging possible.

Today we’re excited to publicly announce a partnership with WhatsApp, the most popular messaging app in the world, to incorporate the TextSecure protocol into their clients and provide end-to-end encryption for their users by default.

Your messages may already be encrypted

The most recent WhatsApp Android client release includes support for the TextSecure encryption protocol, and billions of encrypted messages are being exchanged daily. The WhatsApp Android client does not yet support encrypted messaging for group chat or media messages, but we’ll be rolling out support for those next, in addition to support for more client platforms. We’ll also be surfacing options for key verification in clients as the protocol integrations are completed.

WhatsApp runs on an incredible number of mobile platforms, so full deployment will be an incremental process as we add TextSecure protocol support into each WhatsApp client platform. We have a ways to go until all mobile platforms are fully supported, but we are moving quickly towards a world where all WhatsApp users will get end-to-end encryption by default.

This is still the beginning

We’re continuing to develop the TextSecure app, and our roadmap for our own products remains unchanged. We’ve been working with WhatsApp for the past half year, and have learned a lot through the process of deploying the TextSecure protocol at the scale of hundreds of millions of users. We’re excited to incorporate what we’ve learned from this integration into our future design decisions, and to bring this experience to bear on integrations that we do with other companies and products in the future.

We believe that by continuing to advance the state of the art for frictionless private communication with open source software, open protocols, and simple libraries, we’ll have additional opportunities to support mass adoption of end-to-end encryption.

WhatsApp deserves enormous praise for devoting considerable time and effort to this project. Even though we’re still at the beginning of the roll-out, we believe this already represents the largest deployment of end-to-end encrypted communication in history. Brian Acton and the WhatsApp engineering team have been amazing to work with. Their devotion to the project as well as their thoroughness in getting this done are inspiring in a world where so many other companies are focused on surveillance instead of privacy.

Get involved!

If you’d like to participate in Open Whisper Systems, there are still a few more days to apply to Winter Of Code, our retreat in Hawaii this January. Or check out our Android, iOS, and browser clients on GitHub to join in on development.

If you’d like to donate to Open Whisper Systems, we accept Bitcoin donations that are automatically paid out to each merged PR via BitHub. You can also make tax-deductible donations by credit card through the Freedom Of The Press Foundation here.