It’s a rare intelligence agent who does not want access to all that you have revealed about yourself online. The itchier the fingers of spooks get, the more social media users worry about being spied upon. Of late, Facebook Inc. has been displaying greater sensitivity to the market need for privacy. The unique selling proposition of its chat platform, WhatsApp, after all, is its end-to-end encryption, which ensures that messages can only be read on the devices of the sender and the recipient. It is in Facebook’s own interest, therefore, that it has turned down a plea from the US attorney general, William Barr, to let the US government access and decrypt messages. The authorities wanted data access to fight crime, but Facebook’s stance is that getting rid of encryption would turn its users vulnerable to malicious actors online.

The social media company’s argument has merit. Why expose all WhatsApp users for the sake of identifying just a few evil-doers? Private communication goes back to the early days of the human species. Conversation helped us evolve. Today, we use the internet to converse. If confidentiality is taken away, we could lose big part of what makes us human

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