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Google is testing end-to-end encryption in Android messages

Google started deployment of end-to-end encryption for Rich communication service, the text messaging standard that the industry giant offers as an alternative to SMS.


This story originally appeared on Ars Technica, a trusted source for technology news, technology policy analysis, reviews, and more. Ars is owned by WIRED’s parent company, Condé Nast.

Short in RCS, Rich Communication Service provides a, well, richer user experience than the old SMS standard. Input metrics, presence information, location sharing, longer posts, and better media support are the main selling points. They lead to things like better photos and videos, chatting over Wi-Fi, knowing when a message is read, sharing feedback, and better capabilities for group chats. As Ars, editor, Ron Amadeo noted last yearOperator interest in RCS has been lukewarm, which is why Google rolled it out with limited assistance.

Google said Thursday that it has now completed its global RCS deployment and is moving into a new phase – end-to-end encryption. Interest in end-to-end encryption has exploded over the past decade, especially with the revelations of Edward snowden indiscriminate spying on electronic communications by the NSA.

End-to-end encryption is the antidote to this type of espionage. It uses strong cryptography to encrypt messages with a key unique to each user. Since the key is in the sole possession of each user, end-to-end encryption prevents everyone – including the app creator, ISP or operator and three-letter agencies – from reading a message. . Messaging apps that currently provide E2EE include Signal, WhatsApp, and iMessage, to name just three.

Google wants to join this club. For now, E2EE will only be available to people using the beta version of the Android Messages app. And even then, E2EE will only work for one-to-one messages between people using the Google app, and both senders and recipients will need to enable chat features. The deployment will continue next year. Google provided technical details here. Among other things, the tech document reveals that E2EE messages will be generated using the Signal protocol.

In 2016, Google introduced its Allo messaging application. It also offered E2EE, but only when users dug into a settings menu and turned it on. Two years later, Google killed him. This time with RCS, Google said, “Qualifying conversations will automatically be upgraded to be end-to-end encrypted.”

This story originally appeared on Ars Technica.

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