UK urges access to users’ online encrypted messages

March 26, 2017 2:49 pm
spy agencies should be
able to access encrypted content in online messaging applications to
prevent terrorist attacks, says British Home Secretary Amber Rudd,
warning that terrorists are hiding behind some of the most popular apps.

According
to reports, Khalid Masood, the man behind the recent terror attack in
London, had communicated with unknown parties through WhatsApp messenger
two minutes before his assault that killed 4 people and wounded 50
others.
In an interview with BBC on Sunday, Rudd said it was
“completely unacceptable” that terrorists have found a “place to hide”
using these applications.
“It is completely unacceptable, there should be no place for terrorists to hide,” she said.

British Home Secretary Amber Rudd (Photo by AFP)“We
need to make sure that organizations like WhatsApp, and there are
plenty of others like that, don’t provide a secret place for terrorists
to communicate with each other,” the secretary added.
Rudd said
tech companies in charge of applications like the Facebook-owned
WhatsApp, which use end-to-end encryption, have a “responsibility” to
hand over user messages upon government’s request.
“We have to
have a situation where we can have our security services get into the
terrorists’ communications. That’s absolutely the case,” she argued.
“These
people have families, have children as well – they should be on our
side,” Rudd further said of app developers, calling on Facebook, Google
and Telegram owners to step up cooperation.
Echoing Rudd’s comments was Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who said in a Sunday Times article that companies should come up with software that detect and remove extreme material.
Corbyn warns against ‘unaccountable’ access
In
reaction to the remarks by Rudd and Johnson, Labour leader Jeremy
Corbyn raised concern over giving too much access to spying agencies.

Labour
Party leader Jeremy Corbyn walks along Westminster Bridge by the Houses
of Parliament in central London on March 23, 2017 after the bridge
reopened following the March 22 terror attack. (Photo by AFP)“I’ve
been concerned about giving too much unaccountable power to anybody in
our , so could the security services go to court and make an
application? I would have thought they probably could,” said the
opposition leader, urging a balance between the “right to know” and “the
right to privacy.”
Lib
Dems did not like the idea either,  with home affairs spokesman Brian
Paddick saying that the government would play into the hands of
terrorists by “implementing draconian laws that limit our civil
liberties.”

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