21st Century Wire says…
British Home Secretary Amber Rudd said today on The Andrew Marr Show that technology companies should no longer be able to provide encrypted messaging services that cannot be accessed in emergencies by the security services.
It has emerged that police are investigated reports that the attacker, Khalid Masood, has used the messaging service WhatsApp before launching his attack on Wednesday this week. Rudd commented that it’s ‘completely unacceptable‘ that the police and security services were shut out from messages of this kind. Rudd also refused to rule out passing new legislation to tackle encrypted messaging and the posting of extremist material online. The Home Secretary also said she would be holding talks with firms this week “to ask them to work with us.”
Has any of this come as a surprise to privacy advocates and public alike since the events of 22/3 began to unfold.
Anyone with minimal hindsight could see this coming very quickly. Apparently it’s ‘legit’ for GCHQ and affiliates to break into Gemalto and steal master keys for every SIM card out there, but ‘end to end’ encryption and what privacy we have is ‘unacceptable’ to Ms. Rudd, in case of ’emergencies’.
More on this report from The Guardian…
Technology companies should no longer be able to provide encrypted messaging services that cannot be accessed in emergencies by the security services, the home secretary, Amber Rudd, said on Sunday.
Speaking after it emerged that the police were investigating reports that Khalid Masood had used the encrypted WhatsApp service just before he launched the attack in Westminister, in which he killed four people, Rudd said it was “completely unacceptable” that the police and security services were shut out from messages of this kind.
She also signalled a renewed determination to stop internet companies publishing extremist material online by declaring that they now had to accept they were “publishing companies”, with the responsibilities that went with that, not just technology firms providing a platform.
Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show, Rudd refused to rule out passing new legislation to tackle encrypted messaging and the posting of extremist material online, although she stressed her desire to persuade internet and social media companies to cooperate voluntarily with the government on these issues.
The home secretary also said she would be holding talks with firms this week “to ask them to work with us” on these matters.
The police and security services have for some years expressed concerns about the ability of firms to provide messaging services using end-to-end encryption that means texts and emails cannot be accessed in extremis by the service provider, or by the authorities demanding that information with a warrant
Asked about this, Rudd said: “It is completely unacceptable. There should be no place for terrorists to hide.
“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.
“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 intelligences services have the ability to get into situations like encrypted WhatsApp.”
Rudd accepted that there was a parallel with the situation in the United States, where Apple is resisting attempts by the FBI to get it to rewrite its iPhone software to make it easier for the authorities to get into locked iPhones. Rudd said her message to Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook, would be to “think again”.
She stressed that she did not want the security services to be able to access all encrypted messages. She was just talking about “carefully thought-through, legally covered arrangements”, she said.
Asked if she would be willing to legislate to force companies to allow a “back door” to enable encrypted messages to be read in cases involving terrorism, she replied: “We have to have a situation where we can have our security services get into the terrorists’ communications. That’s absolutely the case. Of course, I will have those conversations [with the industry], and we will see where they go…”