WhatsApp amidst a new encryption debate post London terror attacks

By : |March 27, 2017 0

In the light of the recent London terror attack, British Home Secretary Amber Rudd has said technology companies must cooperate with law enforcement agencies and should stop offering a “secret place for terrorists to communicate” using encrypted messages, reigniting the encryption debate once again.

Last Thursday, a British man named Khalid Masood launched an attack in Westminster that left four people dead and many more injured. According to a Dailymail report, Masood, “was on Whatsapp at 2.37pm approximately two minutes before breaking into people on Westminster Bridge and four minutes before he was shot dead by armed officers outside the Palaces of Westminster.”

CIOL Britain Secretary says WhatsApp is a hiding place for terrorists

“It used to be that people would steam open envelopes or listen in on phones if they wanted to find out what people were doing — legally, through warrants,” continued Rudd. “But in this situation, we need to make sure that our intelligence services have the ability to get into situations like the encrypted WhatsApp.”

So far, however, police report suggests that WhatsApp “didn’t play any direct part in the attack.”

“It is completely unacceptable; there should be no place for terrorists to hide. We need to make sure organizations like WhatsApp, and there are plenty of others like that don’t provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other,” Rudd added.

Rudd said it was “completely unacceptable” that the government could not read messages protected by end-to-end encryption. Reportedly, Rudd has summoned leaders of technology companies to a meeting on Thursday 30 March to discuss the encryption system and its drawbacks.

Though there are many messaging platforms that have previously found themselves at the center of the terrorism debate, Facebook-owned WhatsApp is one of the world’s most popular, with well over one billion monthly active users. WhatsApp activated end-to-end encryption by default last April, and with governments around the world looking for ways to combat the perceived growing threat of terrorism, technology companies are facing mounting pressure to create some kind of backdoor access into their private communication services.

Last year, Apple also resisted a court order that it must help the FBI break into a phone belonging to one of the San Bernardino killers, saying it would set a dangerous precedent.

Recently, Google also faced the heat for “promoting” terrorism. Many advertising Titans have pulled off the plug from Google network for displaying ads along with controversial videos.

 

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