Home secretary calls for Whatsapp backdoor access following Westminster attacks

Rudd’s comments put WhatsApp and parent company Facebook in an awkward position: since WhatsApp rolled out default, end-to-end encryption on the app past year, it has said that no one including its own engineers can access messages sent through the service.

Amber Rudd, the UK Home Secretary, has accused internet-based communications company WhatsApp- which is owned by Facebook- of giving terror suspects a “place to hide”.

WikiLeaks stated: “These techniques permit the Central Intelligence Agency to bypass the encryption of WhatsApp, Signal, Telegram, Wiebo, Confide and Cloackman by hacking the “smart” phones they run on and collecting audio and message traffic before encryption is applied”.

Asked for her view on companies which offer end-to-end encrypted messages, Rudd said, “It is completely unacceptable, there should be no place for terrorists to hide”.

While you can legislate to give security services access to phone calls, text messages and internet histories, you cannot build encryption in this way.

What if I see that my messages aren’t encrypted? Not cybercriminals. Not hackers. “Even if he acted alone in the preparation, we need to establish with absolute clarity why he did these unspeakable acts, to bring reassurance to Londoners”.

Encryption works by jumbling content so heavily that it can’t be deciphered by anyone other than the sender and the recipient. We would do it all through the carefully thought-through, legally covered arrangements.

What the Home Secretary seems to want is for services such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Apple’s iMessage to shift their approach from using end-to-end encryption to something that (at least) allows them to hand over messages in response to a warranted request. They also use messaging services to communicate.

The minister will likely face opposition from the technology industry, which has increasingly rallied against state surveillance, and her own party: former Prime Minister David Cameron lobbied for messaging firms to open a “backdoor” to intelligence services in 2015.

Many at the time praised WhatsApp’s decision to enable encryption.

At that time, Apple CEO Tim Cook penned an open letter saying that the Federal Bureau of Investigation wanted the vendor to make a new version of iOS that would circumvent certain security features and allow the government agency to access encryptyed information on an iPhone recovered during the invetsgigation.

“I think there is a fine line here, we need to protect the privacy of the people but we also need to protect the security of the people”, Abela said. WhatsApp maintains only those involved in a message can read the contents due to end-to-end encryption.

It’s a troubling proposal. If you create a backdoor for the good guys, you create a backdoor for the bad guys too.

In 2015, following the San Bernardino, California shooting that left 14 dead, the Federal Bureau of Investigation requested Apple for the passcodes needed to unlock an iPhone used by one of the perpetrators. “In my view they left their rights when they made a decision to do very bad things…”

He said: “There is a question of always balancing the right to know, the need to know with the right to privacy”. Imagine the potential for blackmail or fraud or identity theft-just so the government can access yet more data that it doesn’t have the resources to handle. “That is the issue”.

Rudd was more specific. Once you break it to go after one target, it is broken for everyone.

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