I recently saw a tweet by local journalist Hopewell Chin’ono urging security-conscious people to uninstall WhatsApp since the government can track WhatsApp messages.
Well, the security of WhatsApp has always been called into question despite the fact that WhatsApp has had end-to-end encryption for nearly half a decade now.
Whilst the encryption is meant to ensure that messages between you and a third party are only readable between the two of you, there have been times when this has been proven to be “easy” to bypass.
Last August, it was revealed that Huawei technicians worked hand-in-hand with Ugandan intelligence officers to hack Bobby Wine’s (prominent opposition figure) WhatsApp and Skype accounts.
Hopewell pointed out this incident as part of his case against using WhatsApp and alluded to the fact that the involvement of Huawei technicians in Uganda is something that could easily happen in Zimbabwe;
Whilst there isn’t evidence to suggest that the government is working hand-in-hand with Huawei or Huawei workers to try and hack political opponents private communications – that has become a trend in Africa that makes it hard to simply dismiss Hopewell’s view.
Apart from the Ugandan incident, Huawei technicians in Zambia also reportedly assisted the government to access the phones and Facebook accounts of opposition bloggers which means the collaboration of African governments and technicians from the telecoms giant are being exploited to crush opposition voices.
For ordinary Zimbabweans like you and me, it might not be an issue because the likelihood that the government would spend energy trying to hack into your communications is pretty insignificant.
For political opponents and journalist covering political issues frequently – it might be in your best interest to follow Hopewell Chin’ono’s advice and install a more secure messaging application like Telegram and Signal. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
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