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Officials within the U.K. government reportedly want the secure, encrypted messaging app WhatsApp to release its users’ messages to assist in terrorism investigations. According to multiple reports, British Interior Minister Amber Rudd criticized the app in the aftermath of the London attacks near the U.K. parliament earlier this week, telling the BBC’s Andrew Marr that it’s “completely unacceptable” for messaging apps that offer end-to-end encryption to stymie such investigations.
We need to make sure organizations like WhatsApp, and there are plenty of others like that, don’t provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other. 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, but in this situation we need to make sure that our intelligence services have the ability to get into situations like encrypted WhatsApp.
Rudd went further, suggesting that organizations like WhatsApp are providing “a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other,” and insisting that must not be the case. Her comments came hot on the heels of reports that Khalid Masood, the alleged perpetrator of the London attack, may have sent a message on WhatsApp just minutes prior to the deadly incident. Secure, encrypted messaging apps like WhatsApp and Signal have come under scrutiny thanks to their security, allowing users to trade messages that can’t be cracked by conventional means of government surveillance.
According to The Guardian, Liberal Democrats home affairs spokesman Brian Paddick disagreed with Rudd’s call for encrypted messaging companies to come under broader compliance with governments, arguing that “terrorists want to destroy our freedoms and undermine our democratic society,” and that following her call would be “playing into their hands.”
Chris Tognotti is a frequent contributor for the Daily Dot. He’s a news and current events writer based out of Berkeley, California, and a co-host of the podcast Now We Know. While he specializes in domestic politics and opinion writing, he’s also savvy on sports, video games, and film.