Amber Rudd: WhatsApp gives terrorists secret place to hide

Khalid Masood, the man identified as the Westminster Bridge attacker, reportedly logged on to the app minutes before he went on a murderous rampage that left four dead and dozens wounded.

British Home Secretary Amber Rudd has targeted Facebook-owned WhatsApp's end-to-end encryption by saying that the feature offers terrorists a safe way to communicate before carrying attacks, the media reported.

"It used to be that people would steam open envelopes or just listen in on phones when they wanted to find out what people were doing - legally, through warrantry".

"We need to make sure that organizations like WhatsApp don't provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with one another", Rudd said on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday. Let us know in the comments.

The Telegraph reports that Rudd has summoned representatives from WhatsApp, Facebook, Google, and other online firms for an event on Thursday to discuss the matter. Although a full ban on end-to-end encryption is unfeasible, it is now unclear how the British government intends to handle the situation. If, say, a hacker were to gain access to a user's credentials, they would still need that second passcode to view the account or messages.

Rudd told Sky News television Sunday that when she meets company executives, "they're going to get a lot more than a ticking off".

Carmelo Abela, who chaired the meeting, wouldn't directly support Rudd's call for companies to provide a backdoor into their apps but he agreed the matter needed further discussion. "We think it's bad news to write". The government even filed a lawsuit against the iPhone maker.

That would allow anyone - not just security services - the chance to snoop on messages, he said. The efforts by tech companies have been inadequate, despite an initiative announced past year, Rudd said.

Rudd's comments reignite the security-versus-privacy debate of previous year that saw Apple engaged in a spat with the Federal Bureau of Investigation after the tech giant refused to build a backdoor OS to get into the phone of one of the perpetrators of the San Bernadino terrorist attacks of December 2015.

Apple refused the request and fought a court order ordering it to comply. One competitor of WhatsApp, Telegram, also encrypt their messages but have written their software to enable police and security services to access messages when needed for criminal investigations.

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

  • Leroy Wright