WhatsApp has become the standard tool for international negotiations. As early as 2016, the Guardian talked about the „rise and rise of diplomacy by WhatsApp“.
WhatsApp’s popularity with diplomats comes from the fact that it is encrypted and has a large base of users, says Corneliu Bjola. „Almost everyone has a WhatsApp account“, he notes.
Bjola teaches Diplomatic Studies at the University of Oxford. He also advises officials on digital diplomacy. Bjola says WhatsApp is used in multilateral settings such as the UN, as well as within foreign ministries.
Tricky security questions
Yet high-profile hacking cases and apparent security flaws have raised uncomfortable questions about the app.
WhatsApp’s popularity among diplomats could take a serious hit after the Cryptoleaks scandal. Investigative journalists revealed that German and US intelligence used faulty encryption to spy on allies across the globe.
US spying has caused trouble for WhatsApp’s parent company Facebook since revelations by whistle-blower Edward Snowden about the NSA in 2013.
The widespread use of surveillance casts doubts on whether free services by US firms can guarantee adequate protection for their users.
Europe has to ask itself – is WhatsApp safe enough for its diplomats?