Together with iMessage, WhatsApp is the only application to share with the FBI the entire content of the messages exchanged almost in real-time. This is learned from a document obtained from Property of the People, a non-profit organization whose motto is government records are owned by the people (so it’s time to reclaim them).
The document, dated January 7, 2021, and delivered to the Rolling Stone newspaper, states that from November 20, 2020, the FBI has the ability to legally access the main messaging apps and that the report in question is reserved for the forces of order. In the following lines, the FBI complains about an excessive delay in the delivery of the data requested to law enforcement, which would have a considerable impact on investigative activities.
The above applies to all the apps mentioned except for WhatsApp, the most prompt – therefore the most commendable – in this sense. In particular, WhatsApp and the FBI would exchange data at regular intervals, precisely every 15 minutes. We mentioned iMessage above: even Apple, in fact, can provide the complete texts of the messages to the American law enforcement agencies, but only if the iCloud backup is active for the app. It is iCloud to grant the ability to read messages to the FBI, once the chats are stored there, even if the app used is WhatsApp and not iMessage.
However, remember that the document dates back to January 7, and the new backup with end-to-end encryption should no longer allow this possibility. The only information worthy of note and still valid today is that concerning the timing of the legal control of WhatsApp printouts, which behaves differently from all the other apps examined (apart from iMessage, Line, Signal, Telegram, Threema, Viber appear. WeChat and Wickr, slower in the transmission of data and in general less spiffy).