WhatsApp users are being secretly tracked by US government agencies who want to keep tabs on who they're talking to.
A Forbes report shows that a newly available government surveillance application saw DEA investigators demand that the Meta-owned encrypted messaging app track seven users in China and Macau.
The officers were reportedly trying to gain information on drug dealers and companies in China that were said to be shipping opioids to the United States.
Using a 35-year-old law, the agency asked WhatsApp to monitor the IP addresses of the users as well as the phone numbers they were communicating with.
As WhatsApp offers full end-to-end encryption, it means that the agents weren't able to access the targets' messages.
They apparently didn't even know who the individuals were. However, they were able to use a technology called a 'pen register' which captures the phone numbers dialled on a phone.
Forbes said that the DEA was trying to target websites and WhatsApp users sending drugs to the US as 'research' chemicals.
This includes diazepam, Valium, Xanax, and more, which were being shipped quietly to the USA.
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Although it doesn't prove that the government is able to read your WhatsApp messages (which is almost impossible), it does show the lengths to which it can go to keep tabs on your communications.
More concerning is the fact that the DEA is able to order tech companies to install these trackers without the need to justify why, or show probable cause.
WhatsApp continually assures its users that nobody can see their messages, but this doesn't stop key metadata (such as who you speak to or what time) from getting out of the app.
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