What Vodacom and MTN know about your WhatsApp messages

There is a stand-off between WhatsApp and the US Justice Department regarding reading WhatsApp conversations – here is what is happening in South Africa.

By - March 16, 2016 Share on LinkedIn
Whatsapp logo on phone

WhatsApp is a popular way for South Africans to send messages and make voice calls to one another.

Over the last year, WhatsApp started to add encryption to those conversations to protect the security and privacy of its subscribers.

The New York Times reported this enhanced security made it impossible for the US Justice Department to read or eavesdrop on WhatsApp conversations.

According to the report, government officials in the United States are privately debating about how to resolve a prolonged stand-off with WhatsApp over its encryption.

The Guardian reported on 14 March that “within weeks, Facebook’s messaging service WhatsApp plans to expand its secure messaging service so that voice calls are also encrypted, in addition to its existing privacy features”.

This raises the question: What is happening in South Africa, and is your WhatsApp communication visible to the authorities?

WhatsApp interception in South Africa

The Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (RICA) requires mobile operators to provide interception capabilities to law enforcement agencies.

RICA also provides guidelines as to when a mobile network operator has to hand over information to an agency and allow them to intercept communications.

Vodacom and MTN were asked whether they had received requests to intercept WhatsApp conversations – they did not answer the question.

When MyBroadband followed up, Vodacom said: “We are not at liberty to disclose this information.”

WhatsApp conversations encrypted end-to-end

Vodacom said it is impossible for it to intercept WhatsApp text messages or WhatsApp voice calls.

“We can see that a messages has been sent and voice call has been made on the network, but we cannot intercept it or decode it,” said Vodacom.

MTN SA CIO Benjamin Marais said the services offered by WhatsApp are encrypted end-to-end, which makes it impossible to decipher.

More on WhatsApp

WhatsApp security under fire: EFF

WhatsApp full end-to-end encryption announced

WhatsApp regulation in SA – what Vodacom and MTN really want

Share your thoughts

Join the conversation

Connect with Us

androidappletwitterfacebookgoogleplusfeednewsletter

Poll

Have you imported electronics from the US?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

More News

How much of your money Jacob Zuma has spent on legal fees

Jacob Zuma in Germany speaking

President Jacob Zuma has spent millions on legal fees and “exorbitant legal counsel’ in the past seven years, the DA said on Saturday.

How to build a 1,600km/h car

Bloodhound

On October 15 1997, Andy Green travelled across the Black Rock Desert, Nevada, in the Thrust SSC at 763.035 mph, or Mach 1.02. Two decades on, that record remains unchallenged – until now.

South Africa’s biggest municipalities – websites ranked

Ugly websites

We asked a local web developer to take a look at the websites of South Africa’s biggest municipalities.

Apple is moving towards a world with no PCs

Apple iPad user

Hands up if you’ve heard of Swift Playgrounds? No, it’s not some new start-up providing quick playdates for bedraggled parents.

Free MyBroadband Newsletter
×