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Re: [tlug] Skype or Something Better: Whatsapp

Furkan Mustafa writes:

 > I strongly disagree.

You're welcome to do so, but as a practical matter, it's a bad idea
IMO, except (maybe) in very technical venues such as this one.

There's a very big problem that deprecating "pretty good privacy"
creates.  For example, as soon as the Guardian article came out,
Erdogan in Turkey started claiming that WhatsApp was completely
cracked, and many Turkish activists switched to completely insecure
apps like Telegram.  They didn't switch to Signal, despite it being
open source and not beholden to a monster corporation.[1]  Big win for
an oppressive government. :-(  Especially since the more people use
WhatsApp, the less valuable mere use becomes to the would-be oppressor
as a signal of dissent.

I assure you that there are people out there reverse engineering the
apps who are not beholden to Facebook.  Undoubtedly some of the 70
quite celebrated experts who signed the open letter are among them.
Some of the more clandestine reverse engineers would short Facebook
stock 10 minutes before posting the details, providing more than
enough incentive I would think.

So if Facebook chose to backdoor their apps, yes, they could.  Is the
almost certain scandal worth it to them?  Surely not, unless ordered
to by governments.[2]  If you are worried about the few governments in a
position to make that stick, you've got more problems than WhatsApp.
For those worried about the only government that can install backdoors
in elliptic cryptography algorithms, well ... maybe Ed Snowden can
give them some advice on successfully kissing Putin's posterior.

What Facebook wants from WhatsApp is the endpoints, who is connected
to whom.  That is also a privacy/security issue, of course, but the
only way to avoid that is to not use the public Internet.


[1]  Signal has a couple major user interface problems, which the 70
analysts believe can only be solved by the kind of approach taken by
<drum roll/> WhatsApp.

[2]  They're not as stupid as say SONY was.

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