WhatsApp Will Let Users Encrypt Back-Ups

  • Mark Zuckerberg announced WhatsApp will be rolling out encrypted cloud back-ups for users.
  • At the moment, you need an unencrypted cloud back-up to bring WhatsApp chats to a new phone.
  • Facebook said the feature will start rolling out in the coming weeks.

Mark Zuckerberg says WhatsApp will give users the option to add an extra layer of security to their message logs.

The Facebook CEO said on Friday that WhatsApp users will soon be able to end-to-end encrypt their message back-ups stored on

Google Drive
and Apple iCloud.

“We’re adding another layer of privacy and security to WhatsApp: an end-to-end encryption option for the backups people choose to store in Google Drive or iCloud,” Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook

At the moment, when a WhatsApp user changes phones, the app’s end-to-end encryption means all their previous chat history from the old phone is lost unless they have created an unencrypted back-up on a cloud service.

“WhatsApp is the first global messaging service at this scale to offer end-to-end encrypted messaging and back-ups,” Zuckerberg said in the announcement post.

It’s not totally clear when the new feature will launch, but a Facebook spokesperson told Insider it will start to roll out to iOS and Android users in the coming weeks.

WhatsApp received some bad press earlier this week around how much privacy it really gives users after a ProPublica investigation found WhatsApp moderators were able to view messages flagged to them for review, despite the company reassuring users it cannot read their messages. WhatsApp maintains  that its encryption means it’s not able to access people’s messages. 

Separately, the service has been criticized by privacy advocates because it collects far more metadata about users than other encrypted chat services like Telegram and Signal.