UK government calls for WhatsApp backdoor access following London attack

UK government calls for WhatsApp backdoor access following London attack

On Sunday, UK home secretary, Amber Rudd said it was “unacceptable” for the government not to be able to read messages on end-to-end encrypted messaging apps, such as WhatsApp.

Speaking on the BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show, she also commented that intelligence services should have access to encrypted messaging services to prevent terrorists from having a place to hide.

As reported by The Verge, Rudd said: “We need to make sure that organizations like WhatsApp don’t provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with one another. […] in this situation, we need to make sure our intelligent services have the ability to get into situations like encrypted WhatsApp.”

These comments came after it was revealed that Khalid Masood used WhatsApp two minutes before he carried out the attack in Westminster last week, resulting in the death of four people.

The TJM take: this issue is rife with debate and there are no easy answers. Which governments can access what means of communication, and how to balance privacy and national interest, are both tough questions.

Fitting this into the changing paradigm of working out how new technology can be understood via traditional taxonomy such as ‘media’ or ‘communications’ or ‘taxi company’ makes the problems even more complex. The laws and legislation are being called into question and can’t seem to change at the pace of development.

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