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What is end-to-end encryption and why are tech companies focusing on it?

GS Paper 3

Syllabus: Science and Technology – Developments and their Applications and Effects in Everyday Life


Source: TH

 Direction: The article tries to explain the end-to-end encryption technology, its uses, the government’s concerns, and challenges.


  • Apple announced that it will be increasing end-to-end encryption, enabling user data protection even in case data is breached in the cloud.
  • Earlier, Elon Musk said that he wanted Twitter DMs to be encrypted.


About end-to-end encryption:

  • It is a communication process that encrypts data being shared between two devices, preventing 3rd parties (cloud service providers, internet service providers (ISPs), and cybercriminals) from accessing data while it is being transferred.
  • Its process uses an algorithm that transforms standard text into an unreadable format, which can only be unscrambled by those with the decryption keys.
  • It has long been used to secure communications and can also be used to secure passwords, protect stored data and safeguard data on cloud storage.



  • According to data breach research, the total number of data breaches more than tripled between 2013 and 2021, exposing data of 1.1 billion personal records.
  • End-to-end encryption is a technology that secures users’ data from hacking, and snooping by government agencies, making it a popular feature among activists, journalists and political opponents.


Why are government agencies unhappy with it?

  • They are deeply concerned with the threat that end-to-end encryption and user-only access pose.
  • For example, US FBI insisted that end-to-end encryption hinders its ability to protect Americans from cyber-attacks, violence against children and terrorism.


Challenges ahead:

  • The technology does not protect metadata which includes information like when a file was created, the date when a message is sent and the endpoints between which data was shared.
  • Conflict of interest between governments (national security) and tech companies (privacy of users). For example, in 2019, the U. S., the U. K., and Australia planned to pressurise Facebook to create a backdoor into its encrypted messaging apps.



Conclusion: While attempts by law enforcement to weaken encryption with backdoors could compromise the reliability of the internet, the end-to-end encryption to secure more user data seems to be getting stronger.


Insta Links:

India joins UK-led fight against encrypted online messages


Mains Links:

Q. What do you understand about encryption? Do you think governments should be given the authority to break into encryption and store the information? Comment. (250 Words)


Prelims Links: UPSC 2022

Q2. With reference to Web 3.0, consider the following statements:

  1. Web 3.0 technology enables people to control their own data.
  2. In the Web 3.0 world, there can be blockchain-based social networks.
  3. Web 3.0 is operated by users collectively rather than by a corporation


Which of the following given above is correct?

a. 1 and 2 only

b. 2 and 3 only

c. 1 and 3 only

d. 1, 2 and 3


December 2022

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