A fighting chance against instant messaging giant WhatsApp, is what the European Union (EU) cites for proposing new changes in their Digital Markets Act. However, Will Cathcart, head of Meta’s WhatsApp, says that the proposed changes would only end up making the users vulnerable to cyber crime.
Speaking to the Platformer, Cathcart said, “I have a lot of concerns around whether this will break or severely undermine privacy, whether it’ll break a lot of the safety work we’ve done that we’re particularly proud of, and whether it’ll actually lead to more innovation and competitiveness”.
What is EU’s proposal?
EU’s proposed changes to the Digital Markets Act, requires that major instant messaging applications adopt interoperability so that a user can send messages to different apps from one platform.
EU maintained that lack interoperability has resulted in monopoly of certain platforms. This thereby discourages newer applications from entering the market, they stated.
Downside of the changes
This measure will be cease operation of the end-to-end encryption, a feature which is crucial for the security WhatsApp provides its users.
The proposal can also open the sluice for hackers to attack a WhatsApp account. Cathcart flagged the concerns around privacy and digital security as an unintended consequence of the Digital Markets Act.
“We’ve seen a lot of apps that just go out and market themselves as bulk messaging on the WhatsApp network. What happens when one of those comes in wants to interoperate” said Cathcart.
Former chief security officer of Facebook old The Verge, “How do you tell your phone who you want to talk to, and how does the phone find that person? There is no way to allow for end-to-end encryption without trusting every provider to handle the identity management…lf the goal is for all of the messaging systems to treat each other’s users exactly the same, then this is a privacy and security nightmare”.
End-to-end encryption for WhatsApp
The feature provided by Meta’s instant messaging app, end-to-end encryption (E2EE) is a method of secure communication that prevents third parties from accessing data while it’s transferred from one end system or device to another.
In E2EE, the data is encrypted on the sender’s system or device, and only the intended recipient can decrypt it. As it travels to its destination, the message cannot be read or tampered with by an internet service provider (ISP), application service provider, hacker or any other entity or service.
The end-to-end encryption has come out as a major hurdle to solve before the European Union can take the next steps towards interoperability of messaging services.
Another problem could be stopping the spread of hate speech, misinformation and spam. Currently. WhatsApp bans millions of accounts every month for sending spam and hateful messages. With interoperability at the helm. how other apps handle such accounts will also be a concern.