WhatsApp Announces Delay in Launch of Third-Party Chats Feature

WhatsApp Announces Delay in Launch of Third-Party Chats Feature

WhatsApp users will have to wait longer than expected for the introduction of third-party chats feature, Meta revealed recently. The delay is due to the complexities involved in implementing end-to-end encryption (E2EE) architecture for third-party providers. While the European Union’s (EU) Digital Markets Act (DMA) mandates messaging interoperability within three months, Meta has cited technical limitations as the reason for the extended timeline. The company has stated that group chats, as well as audio and video calling, will not be available until after 2024.

Meta emphasized that it has been working on building a safety and privacy-centric process for interoperability for nearly two years. The social media giant has also consulted with the European Commission regarding its plans. Despite the challenges, Meta aims to enable individual text messaging, voice messages, and media sharing between users by the end of the year. However, group chats and calling features are still in the pipeline.

To facilitate interoperability with WhatsApp, third-party providers will be required to sign an agreement and adhere to specific protocols. Meta expressed a preference for providers to use the Signal Protocol for maximum security. However, compatibility with other secure protocols will also be considered. WhatsApp currently utilizes the Noise Protocol Framework for data encryption, and third-party clients must undergo a “Noise Handshake” process when connecting to the WhatsApp server. This handshake involves providing a payload to the server containing a JSON Web Token (JWT Token) for authentication.

Security Concerns

While Meta reassures users that end-to-end encryption will be maintained while data is within WhatsApp’s servers and in transit, the company acknowledges that it cannot guarantee the same level of security once the data reaches the third-party client. This raises concerns about the protection of user data and privacy in the context of third-party chats.

The delay in introducing third-party chats on WhatsApp highlights the complexities of ensuring secure interoperability while maintaining user privacy. Meta’s commitment to addressing technical challenges and enhancing safety measures is commendable, but the extended timeline for implementing key features may disappoint users. As the company continues to work towards enabling seamless communication across platforms, balancing security and convenience will be crucial in shaping the future of messaging services.

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