UK official wants police access to WhatsApp messages

UK official wants police access to WhatsApp messages

A senior U.K. official is asking that law enforcement should be given access to encrypted messages on WhatsApp and similar services, a demand that is

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A senior U.K. official is asking that law enforcement should be given access to encrypted messages on WhatsApp and similar services, a demand that is likely to fuel an ongoing debate over whether companies should create backdoors into their encryption technologies for investigators.

Khalid Masood, the terrorist who killed four people outside Parliament on Wednesday, had sent a message on WhatsApp a little before the attack, according to reports.

“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,” Home Secretary Amber Rudd said on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday.

“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 warranty,” she said “But on this situation we need to make sure that our intelligence services have the ability to get into situations like encrypted WhatsApp.”

Rudd told Sky News that end-to-end encryption has its place, but it is not incompatible with providing a system for law enforcement agencies to have access to information with a warrant, if absolutely necessary.

The official is meeting with internet companies on Thursday to set up an industry board to also address the issue of the take down of terrorist content and propaganda on their platforms. The efforts by tech companies have been inadequate, despite an initiative announced last year, Rudd said.

WhatsApp, which was acquired by Facebook in 2014, encrypts end-to-end messages, voice and video calls between a sender and receiver that use WhatsApp client software released after March 31, 2016, using the Signal Protocol designed by Open Whisper Systems.

“This end-to-end encryption protocol is designed to prevent third parties and WhatsApp from having plaintext access to messages or calls. What’s more, even if encryption keys from a user’s device are ever physically compromised, they cannot be used to go back in time to decrypt previously transmitted messages,” according to the messaging platform.

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