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Google Messages could be getting cross platform end-to-end encryption
- Google has thrown its support behind the end-to-end encryption system called Messaging Layer Security.
- Google intends to integrate the system into Google Messages and Android.
- MLS will allow for cross-platform end-to-end encrypted communication.
For more than a year, Google has been very vocal about RCS communication, which allows for end-to-end encrypted messages. However, RCS is not perfect, as it requires users to be on the same platform for it to work. That’s why Google has called out Apple for not adopting the standard. But that problem could soon be fixed.
Today, Google announced that it has thrown its support behind the end-to-end encryption standard known as Messaging Layer Security (MLS). The standard would allow for interoperable end-to-end encrypted communication between large messaging platforms.
If you’re not familiar with MLS, it’s a protocol developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). The IETF recently approved the publication of MLS specification RFC 9420. Google states with the new specification, MLS now enables “practical interoperability across services and platforms, scaling to groups of thousands of multi-device users.”
The Mountain View-based firm says that it intends to “build MLS into Google Messages and support its wide deployment across the industry by open sourcing our implementation in the Android codebase.”
This means that once Google integrates MLS into Google Messages, you’ll be able to group chat with others securely. Those messages would be sent to your friend’s devices on their preferred messaging app with end-to-end encryption seamlessly.
Google says its “strongly supportive of regulatory efforts that require interoperability for large end-to-end messaging platform.” However, it points out that for interoperability to succeed, there’s a need for “robust standardization.”
Without robust standardization, the result will be a spaghetti of ad hoc middleware that could lower security standards to cater for the lowest common denominator and raise implementation costs, particularly for smaller providers. Lack of standardization would also make advanced features such as end-to-end encrypted group messaging impossible in practice – group messages would have to be encrypted and delivered multiple times to cater for every different protocol.
Although Google says it plans on integrating MLS into Google Messages, it’s unknown how this will affect RCS.