Facebook wants to develop a method of analyzing WhatsApp chats without actually decrypting the information, according to a report published by The Information website. The suspicion arose from the announcement of Mark Zuckerberg’s company looking for professionals to analyze the chat application’s encryption.
The social network has advertised several jobs on its site for those looking to work with privacy-preserving technologies such as secure computing and data anonymization, while “simultaneously expanding the efficiency of Facebook’s industry-leading advertising systems.”
One of WhatsApp’s differentials is that it has end-to-end encryption. This means that only senders and recipients can read messages. That is, not even the app itself has access to the content. This should give you the peace of mind that you can say what you want without anyone seeing, reading or hearing it.
Without access to the content of conversations, it is difficult to use the chat application to deliver targeted advertisements. This WhatsApp encryption hurdle is something Facebook is trying to overcome, according to The Information.
A process called homomorphic encryption would theoretically allow data to be collected for targeting ads without violating users’ privacy. Other tech giants, including cloud computing providers Microsoft, Amazon and Google, are also working on the topic.
If Bigs Techs succeed, the technology could allow companies to analyze personal information, such as medical records and financial data, keeping the data safe from cybersecurity threats.
Thus, homomorphic encryption would allow Facebook to respect the privacy of users’ data, a concern of authorities in the United States and Europe, while preserving the platform’s business model.
The technology could also be an alternative for the company to start making money with WhatsApp, whose messages are encrypted, meaning that Facebook cannot use them to target ads.
On Twitter, Whatsapp CEO Will Cathcart denied that the platform is researching the use of homomorphic cryptography. “That’s not how the technology works,” he said.