WhatsApp is working on a new feature that will let users lock and hide individual chats behind biometric security, such as your fingerprint. Since most modern phones have some kind of biometric security feature in place it’s likely the feature will be available to everyone.
According to a post on the WABetaInfo forum (and spotted by Wccftech) the new feature was found in version 18.104.22.168 of the app, an early build that is not currently available to everyone. It’s a positive change to see the company coming up with new features and updates that address consumer concerns rather than cosmetic changes.
WhatsApp is the default messaging app for a lot of people, so having that extra layer of privacy would definitely benefit a lot of people with sensitive jobs, or who just want some things to remain private. It may be a little controversial to some, as many would wonder who this is for and how giving people access to a feature like this is actually a benefit, but that’s a common thread of discourse that surrounds any privacy features rolled out on apps or hardware.
This is great for people who don’t want the government snooping through their messages (valid), but not so great for the governments themselves. WhatsApp has already stirred up a whole lot of trouble earlier in the year for defending the end-to-end encryption it offers users that make it so that only the sender and receiver can read the texts.
When the head of Meta’s WhatsApp messaging service came to London earlier this year to discuss privacy issues with the UK government around privacy, he definitely stirred the pot, advocating for consumer privacy rather than government surveillance. So, suffice it to say if we do see an update that features additional privacy features, there will likely be pushback from some governments.
As this is a feature spotted in an early beta version of Whatsapp, it’s not certain that it will end up coming to all users, so don’t get too excited. We’ll keep you posted if and when this new privacy feature does arrive in a full update.