Signal and Threema will not connect to WhatsApp’s third-party chat feature due to the need to keep users safe

Signal and Threema will not connect to WhatsApp’s third-party chat feature due to the need to keep users safe

Messengers Signal and Threema do not plan to connect to WhatsApp’s third-party chat functionality due to the need to maintain a high level of user privacy and security.

In accordance with the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) requirements for third-party chats, Meta* must ensure compatibility with other instant messengers by March 2024. DMA requires Meta to be ready to provide interoperability with other services within three months of receiving the request. However, the company notes that it may take longer to actually enable the feature for public use.

According to the DMA, in the first year, only personal third-party chats are required to be supported, including sharing files such as images, videos or voice messages. Eventually, this support should also include group chats and calls.

Previously, Meta* reported that third-party service developers would have to sign an interoperability agreement with Messenger and WhatsApp before they could jointly implement the feature. The company asks other providers to use the WhatsApp Signal protocol for encryption, but says it is willing to work with others as long as they meet the same security standards. Meta*, for its part, promises to provide E2EE encryption regardless of the chosen protocol.

WhatsApp has been testing the ability to create chats with users of other platforms such as Telegram and Discord for some time now. A separate “Hidden chats” section will appear for them.

It turned out that the developers of Signal and Threema are not interested in cooperating with WhatsApp in this direction. These secure messengers prioritize privacy and security standards over potential user expansion through WhatsApp compatibility.

Signal and Threema could, in theory, ask Meta* to open access for basic messaging compatibility between their messengers and WhatsApp. However, both companies have made it clear to the media that they are not interested in doing so.

In a statement to the media, Signal President Meredith Whittaker said, “Our privacy standards are extremely high, and not only will we not lower them, we want to continue to raise them. Currently, working with Facebook** Messenger, iMessage, WhatsApp or even the Matrix service will mean a deterioration of our data protection standards.”

According to a Threema representative: “The main reason is that our security and privacy standards are incompatible with theirs. We cannot and will not deviate from these standards – that’s what Threema is all about.”

While the addition of WhatsApp compatibility could potentially allow those who want to use Signal and Threema as their primary messenger to communicate with many more users, Signal and Threema have made it clear that privacy is more important to them and their users.

While WhatsApp chats are fully encrypted using the same Signal protocol that Signal and Threema also use, WhatsApp does not offer advanced metadata privacy protections. Although metadata does not contain the content of messages, it is still valuable and potentially confidential because it shows who is communicating with whom and at what time. Because WhatsApp’s source code is closed, Signal and Threema say the developers of those messengers also won’t know what else might happen to their users’ data once it gets into WhatsApp’s hands.

In addition, it is not yet clear whether WhatsApp will open its service to competitors around the world or limit it to the EU, as Apple released the iOS 17.4 update specifically for the EU with access to alternative iPhone app stores.

Telegram, which is among the top five most used messaging apps in the world and has a larger user base than Signal and Threema combined, has so far not released a statement about its plans to make chats compatible with WhatsApp.

Meta Platforms*, as well as social networks Facebook** and Instagram** belonging to it: — *recognized as an extremist organization, its activities are prohibited in Russia; – ** prohibited in Russia.

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