UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd has renewed calls for WhatsApp backdoor after London attack. As the British capital reels in the aftermath of yet another dreadful attack, the United Kingdom government has reignited the debate on the use of end-to-end encryption in mobile messaging apps. Rudd is expected to meet with representatives from technology firms.
Echoing criticisms made in 2015 by former UK prime minister David Cameron after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in France, Rudd has described authorities’ inability to read messages on WhatsApp as “completely unacceptable.” According to BBC News, she said that such secure messaging apps should not provide “a secret place for terrorists to communicate with one another.” End-to-end encryption means communicated messages are unreadable if intercepted by anyone, including authorities and the Facebook-subsidiary itself.
The Verge Notes that the UK home secretary’s comments were criticized for her seeming lack of tech knowledge however, they sketch a global and familiar conflict between technology companies and governments. The Brazilian government has suspended WhatsApp on several occasions for allegedly failing to cooperate with police investigations.
After reports revealed that the man who killed four people in the British capital last week has used the Facebook-owned messaging app before his attack, the home secretary identified the firm as needing to do more to combat terrorism. She said that the Internet is “serving as a conduit”, spreading extremist ideology and inspiring violence.
Rudd said that WhatsApp must open its encryption to authorities. Since last week’s London attack, government ministers have berated online firms for not taking adequate steps to stop the spread of hate messages. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said that online companies need to quit just making money out of violent content.
According to Recode, Britain’s home secretary said that the country would need assistance fighting terror from other internet firms and service, including Twitter, Google, and, surprisingly, content management system WordPress. Rudd has demanded WhatsApp backdoor from people who “understand the necessary hashtags.”
In response to Amber Rudd’s comments, privacy and security experts highlighted the dangers of introducing backdoors into encrypted software applications. Open Rights Group said that such a move would make millions of ordinary people less secure online.
The Menlo Park social networking giant bought the secure messaging client for $22 billion in 2014. A spokesperson for the Facebook subsidiary said that they are “horrified by the attack” and are cooperating with law enforcement as they continue their probe.
Amber Rudd said that we should ensure that intelligence services have the ability to get into encrypted communication software like WhatsApp. She has also urged online firms to be more aggressive in shuttering websites exploited by terrorists. Britain has for some time complained clamorously about end-to-end encryption, and the home secretary now says she is ready to take action if necessary.
By Anila Maring
Photo Courtesy WhatsApp