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Meta Delays Third-Party Chat Feature on WhatsApp to maintain end to end encryption

Meta announced on Wednesday that WhatsApp would require additional time to introduce third-party chat features to users. The delay is attributed to challenges in implementing end-to-end encryption (E2EE) architecture for third-party providers, as outlined by the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), which mandates messaging interoperability across in-person conversations within the region within three months of its enactment on March 6.

While Meta has been working on building a security and privacy-focused process for interoperability for nearly two years and consulting with the European Commission, technical hurdles have caused the delay. The company aims to enable personal text messaging, voice messages, and media sharing between end users by the end of the year, although no specific timeline has been provided. However, features such as group chat and audio/video calling are expected to be available only after 2024.

To facilitate interoperability with WhatsApp, third-party providers will need to sign an agreement and perform a ‘noise handshake’, as part of the Noise Protocol framework used by WhatsApp to encrypt all data between end users and servers. While Meta asserts responsibility for E2EE while the data is on WhatsApp’s servers and in transit, it cannot ensure the same level of security once the data is received by the third-party client.

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