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Google Messages users stumble onto new security feature in the works

End-to-end encryption appears to be in the early stages of testing for group chats.
By
October 28, 2022
Google Messages icon app
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • Some Redditors unexpectedly got an encrypted message while participating in a large group chat.
  • It was later discovered that group chat end-to-end encryption was enabled through Google Messages.
  • It appears that group chat end-to-end encryption is in the early testing stage.

When it comes to privacy, Google Messages still has some work to do. However, a recent discovery by some Redditors suggests that Google could be preparing to make its communication platform a lot more secure soon.

To improve communication privacy, Google introduced end-to-end encryption (E2EE) for RCS on Google Messages in late 2020. That E2EE only applies to 1-on-1 conversations, unfortunately. However, according to 9To5Google, Google did confirm earlier this year that it planned on bringing encryption to RCS group chats, offering late 2022 as when the open beta could begin. This means that up until now, group chats were left completely unencrypted.

Now it looks like that could be changing in the near future. On the r/GoogleMessages subreddit, user D3rocks4u posted an image of an encrypted message that popped up in their 20-plus member group chat that contained both Google Messages and Samsung Messages users. After further investigation, it was discovered that end-to-end encryption in the group chat was enabled through Google Messages.

Based on the discovery, it seems Google is currently in the early stages of testing out the security feature. It’s possible that for true E2EE to happen, everyone would need to have E2EE enabled, otherwise the app likely reverts back to being unencrypted.

If you’re wondering why Google isn’t bringing E2EE to SMS, in short, the format doesn’t support it. So if you want to take advantage of the privacy that comes from E2EE, then you’ll need to make sure RCS is turned on.