Amber Rudd demands spy agency access to WhatsApp's encrypted messages

Home Secretary calls secure messages a "place to hide" for terrorists

Home Secretary Amber Rudd has insisted UK spy agencies should be allowed access to encrypted messaging services, after it came to light that the terrorist responsible for last week's Westminster attack, Khalid Masood, used the free messaging service two minutes before he killed four people.

Rudd said it was "completely unacceptable" that groups such as Isis had a "place to hide" because of WhatsApp's security measures to stop people hacking into the communication platform.

Advertisement - Article continues below

"It is completely unacceptable, there should be no place for terrorists to hide," Judd told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show. "We need to make sure that organisations like WhatsApp, and there are plenty of others like that, don't provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other."

WhatsApp implemented end-to-end encryption for all forms of communication on its platform last April. Other communication platforms like Signal also offer fully encrypted communications, meaning even the companies themselves can't read people's messages.

She claimed that the information held in the messages to and from the attacker were most probably vital to the investigation, but WhatsApp's end-to-end encryption means it's unlikely they'll ever be released to security organisations following Apple's refusal to allow US security agents access to a terrorist's iPhone last year.

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

"We have to have a situation where we can have our security services get into the terrorists' communications. That's absolutely the case," she added. "These people have families, have children as well they should be on our side."

Advertisement - Article continues below

Judd said she hopes to organise some kind of arrangement with technology businesses that would allow the UK government to gain access to content like this if it's likely to help in their investigations for the security of the nation.

However, both the Labour and Liberal Democrat leaders oppose being able to access encrypted data. Lib Dem home affairs spokesman Brian Paddick said he objected to changing the law because it would be playing into the terrorists' hands.

"These terrorists want to destroy our freedoms and undermine our democratic society ... Having the power to read everyone's text messages is neither a proportionate nor an effective response."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn added: "I've been concerned about giving too much unaccountable power to anybody in our society, so could the security services go to court and make an application? I would have thought they probably could."

Picture credit: Bigstock

Featured Resources

Top 5 challenges of migrating applications to the cloud

Explore how VMware Cloud on AWS helps to address common cloud migration challenges

Download now

3 reasons why now is the time to rethink your network

Changing requirements call for new solutions

Download now

All-flash buyer’s guide

Tips for evaluating Solid-State Arrays

Download now

Enabling enterprise machine and deep learning with intelligent storage

The power of AI can only be realised through efficient and performant delivery of data

Download now
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/software/video-conferencing/355138/zoom-beaming-ios-user-data-to-facebook-for-targeted-ads
video conferencing

Zoom beams iOS user data to Facebook for targeted ads

27 Mar 2020
Visit/infrastructure/server-storage/355118/hpe-warns-of-critical-bug-that-destroys-ssds-after-40000-hours
Server & storage

HPE warns of 'critical' bug that destroys SSDs after 40,000 hours

26 Mar 2020
Visit/software/355113/companies-offering-free-software-to-fight-covid-19
Software

These are the companies offering free software during the coronavirus crisis

25 Mar 2020
Visit/mobile/mobile-phones/355088/apple-lifts-iphone-purchase-restrictions
Mobile Phones

Apple lifts iPhone purchase restrictions

23 Mar 2020