Meta announces that WhatsApp will allow users to lock and hide conversations tech news

WhatsApp users will soon be able to lock and hide conversations thanks to a new feature.

Chat Lock will remove chat threads from the app’s regular on-screen inbox and place them in a new folder that can only be opened with a password or biometrics (such as facial recognition or fingerprint).

WhatsApp’s parent company Meta called it “an extra layer of security” and added Chat Lock to protect “your most intimate conversations” and hide notifications.

It’s the latest in a growing list of features for the encrypted messaging service used around the world inconsistent with the UK The government’s Online Safety Act.

Read more: Why the Online Safety Act is so controversial

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As part of its privacy package, Meta allows WhatsApp users to encrypt their backups, block screenshots and have their messages disappear automatically.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg confirmed the new feature in a Facebook post.

“The new locked chats in WhatsApp make your conversations even more private. They’re hidden in password-protected folders, and notifications don’t reveal the sender or message content,” he said.

Meta criticized Online Safety Actand other companies.

It said the law change would break end-to-end encryption — a level of security for messages that means no one other than the users participating in the conversation will be able to see its contents.

The company has previously warned It would rather see UK users stop using its service than risk compromising their privacy.

The government insists it will not outlaw end-to-end encryption.

It said the Online Safety Act would preserve privacy while strengthening protections for children’s safety.

The government added that charities, including the NSPCC, supported the bill.

Surveys show it’s also supported large number of british adults.

But Element, a British messaging platform used by agencies including the MoD, US Marine Corps and Ukraine’s Armed Forces, called the bill “very dangerous” and would weaken national security.

Matthew Hodgson, Element’s chief executive, said: “Bad actors don’t play by the rules. Rogue nation-states, terrorists and criminals will use every resource at their disposal to target access.”

Mr Hodgson added: “It is appalling to see the UK, a country synonymous with democracy and freedom, introduce routine mass surveillance and fundamentally undermine encryption.

“Bad actors will simply continue to use existing unregulated apps — while the privacy of good actors using compliant apps will be compromised.”

The wide-ranging legislation aims to regulate internet content to keep people safe and will give media watchdog Ofcom the power to require platforms to identify and remove child abuse content.

Failure to comply could expose the company to hefty fines.

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