Particularly after the San Bernardino’s iPhone case, the realization for the need of complete security and privacy of your phone and particularly your personal conversations and data has taken a serious place in the consumer market.
Recently as we saw, WhatsApp also rolled out end-to-end encryption to its service, making all of the text conversations, videos, phone calls and photos end-to-end encrypted. WhatsApp cannot help the government if they try to intervene because it just simply can’t. End-to-end encryption when talked about in a layman’s term is an on-device technology that makes the users engaged in a conversation the sole owner of the data exchanged. Even the company that provides the service will not be able to look into your personal conversations or media send over the service.
Now, Facebook is also in talks of adopting this encryption technology in its future Messenger service supposedly called “Secret Conversations” which allow you to talk to the other person in Snapchat style chatting system which will automatically delete the messages after a certain time period set by the user. Facebook said that this new feature will have a better support for the conversation about sensitive topics like health and finance which requires trust from family members or business partners.
“Secret Conversations” will be stripped off of many fancy offerings like adding hilarious GIFs to your conversations or adding videos on Messenger. It is to be noted that this service will be provided as an opt-in one and all of your conversations are NOT end-to-end encrypted if you turn off the feature. Secret Conversations will work only on one device so you can’t hop back and forth to Facebook web and mobile to access your encrypted chats. Also, if any person reported you of abuse while in a secret conversation, the data can be sent back to Facebook for evaluation purposes. So it seems it is not purely end-to-end encrypted.
The service will use the same Signal protocol from Open Whisper Systems. It is the same protocol that is being used in the Facebook owned WhatsApp and Google’s new messaging service called Allo. The protocol has gained a lot of respect among the cyber security and cryptography community and is tested to deliver great results.
Although the details of the implementation of the protocol has not been released by Facebook yet, allowing users to switch between encrypted conversations seems a great choice for people who want rich content in their Messenger conversations.