In the last few weeks, WhatsApp’s promise on privacy has been put under the scanner. In the investigation leading up to the death of the popular Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput, a few personal WhatsApp chats of the accused were leaked. Several people and media houses started questioning the security of the encrypted chats on the platform. If you had doubts too, the company has come up with a clarification on the issue.

“WhatsApp protects your messages with end-to-end encryption so that only you and the person you’re communicating with can read what is sent, and nobody in between can access it, not even WhatsApp. It’s important to remember that people sign up on WhatsApp using only a phone number, and WhatsApp doesn’t have access to your message content,” says WhatsApp.

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“WhatsApp follows guidance provided by operating system manufacturers for on-device storage and we encourage people to take advantage of all the security features provided by operating systems such as strong passwords or biometric IDs to prevent third parties from accessing content stored on the device,” the spokesperson added.

The WhatsApp chats, hence, are encrypted and can only read by the sender as well as the recipient. The only way a third person can access the chats is either via unverified access to the device or sharing screenshots of the chats. Moreover, WhatsApp accounts of users can be protected by biometric locks such as fingerprint sensors and FaceID (on iPhones).

WhatsApp chats on the cloud aren’t encrypted

While the chats stored on your smartphone are protected by encryption, the backups of the same aren’t. Android users have the option to store a backup of chats on Google Drive whereas the iCloud is available for iPhones. Access to chats can be possible with device cloning, even for the older deleted chats.

Additionally, the company has a different set of rules for law enforcement agencies. In its blog post, WhatsApp says, “We disclose account records solely in accordance with our terms of service and applicable law. Additionally, we will assess whether requests are consistent with internationally recognized standards including human rights, due process, and the rule of law. A Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty request or letter rogatory may be required to compel the disclosure of the contents of an account.”

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