Viber recently announced that it will soon encrypt the text messages, photos and any other media sent through its platform for all 700 million of its users, reports Wired. Today, many tech companies are beginning to encrypt the data of their users, particularly because the use of messaging apps and cell phones in general have become a daily part of life for most of the world. Although Viber's encryption is significant for one distinct reason: they're not a U.S. company.
After the FBI was initially unable to unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters, they requested that Apple break into the phone for them. But Apple refused, stating it would be risking the security of every single one of its customers. Since then, congress has been attempting to get an anti-encryption bill passed that will essentially make it easier for the government to access the data of anyone, should they so desire.
RELATED: Is Big Data Racist?
However, Viber is an Israeli company, owned by Japanese corporation, Rakuten Inc., meaning they would not be subject to any written U.S. law that attempts to regulate technology. This is great news for Viber users, but not so great news for U.S. tech giants like Facebook, Google and Apple. If an anti-encryption law passes, it could prompt many U.S. residents to switch to an overseas company like Viber for messaging where their data would be more secure.
Even with so much of the tech world embracing encryption these days, Viber COO Michael Shmilov insists his company's encryption plan was not some sort of bandwagon marketing effort. He told Wired, "We did it because it's a standard we need to meet. Users share a lot of private data between them, and we want to make sure it's secure."
Whether it's because of a need to stay competitive or because they sincerely care about the privacy of their users, it's a relief to know that most tech companies have data encryption at the forefront of their plans for the future.