16 alleged terrorists detained thanks to WhatsApp?

whatsappIt is undeniable that WhatsApp is now part of our lives. This famous app is currently the most used instant messaging application for smartphones, and as you know is extremely handy to stay in touch with your family, colleagues and friends. You can use it whenever you want, wherever you are, all you need is an Internet connection. Furtnermore, It is much cheaper than SMS (nearly free), faster, and through it you can share not just messages, but videos, music and pictures.

But that’s not all. In the last few hours there are news that report that WhatsApp (yes, WhatsApp) also helped Belgian policy, with the cooperation of US authorities, to detain 16 alleged terrorists with ties to Chechen rebels. In fact it seems that US law enforcement was able to pass to Belgian authorities information gathered from WhatsApp messages.

The announcement was given by ABC News, which reports that, due to lack of evidence, several of the suspects have already been released by Belgian authorities. The investigation started after a man who had been wounded in the fighting in Syria returned to Belgium. Again, we have to face a dilemma of difficult solution: shall we allow the authorities to have access to private communications between users, in order to be able to locate the many terrorist cells spread throughout the world, or shall we respect the privacy of ordinary citizens?

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WhatsApp uses a particular technology called end-to-end encryption to keep the messages private. Obviously FBI is not a fan of this technology, used also by other major tech companies. In fact the encryption make it very difficult to have acces to private information. So, according to the reports, it seems that the agency had a virtual backdoor allowing law enforcement agencies to access encrypted information if they had a warrant.

Obviously FBI has not given the name of the agency involved in the transfer of information from WhatsApp to Belgian authorities.

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