Google starts rolling out RCS end-to-end encryption for some Google Messages users
Google has begun the roll-out of end-to-end encryption (E2EE) for its RCS-based “Chat” service in the Google Messages app for Android. We first got wind of the plans in a dogfood build, leaked back in the Spring, and the change was trailed by Google last month, but now it appears that it has started arriving in beta builds. The arrival of encrypted traffic has been one of the ‘most wanted’ features from users and puts the Chat feature in Messages on more of a par with the likes of WhatsApp and Signal for security.
As spotted by users on Reddit and Twitter (via 9to5Google), the arrival of E2EE has begun for one-to-one conversations initially. Any existing conversations—assuming both participants have RCS enabled— will automatically be upgraded to E2EE. There’s no option to turn it off unless one participant falls back to SMS, but why would you actively NOT want your conversation to be protected from prying eyes. Messages sent via the older SMS and MMS protocols won’t be encrypted and remain just as vulnerable as ever.
Once it has been activated on your device, you’ll see a blue message bubble on your conversations telling you about ‘more security in chats’ with a link to find out more. During conversations, you’ll see “Chatting with [user]” now has a padlock next to it, reminding you that this is a secure conversation, and the “Send” arrow also gains itself a little padlock too.
Although Google has had a less-than-stellar track record of finding a messaging service and sticking to it, the commitment to E2EE in an RCS environment which it created in deference to global carriers, suggests that this one is going to stick, at least for now. With plans to roll out Google Chat and Google Meet as its other main messaging clients during 2021, it seems like, at last, Google has found a strategy and is sticking with it.
— ᴊᴜʟɪᴏ ツ (@DaX05) December 7, 2020