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Home Secretary Amber Rudd: Give security services access to WhatsApp

TECHNOLOGY companies must allow the security services access to messages in times of emergency, Home Secretary Amber Rudd has said. It follows reports that Khalid Masood, the man responsible for the terrorist attack in London on Wednesday, used the WhatsApp service to send someone a message just three minutes before he mowed down 40 people on Westminster Bridge. The inbuilt encryption of WhatsApp means police and MI5 have reportedly not seen the contents of that message.

Doing the rounds on the Sunday morning political TV shows, the Home Secretary said technology firms must build in back doors to allow security services to eavesdrop. Rudd also insisted WordPress, and Google, who run YouTube, must realise that they are now publishers rather than simply technology companies, and so should do more to tackle extremist videos and blogs. Although the Home Secretary said she would like companies to do this voluntarily and independently, she refused to rule out changing the law to force their hand.

Rudd told BBC One s Andrew Marr Show: 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 on this situation we need to make sure that our intelligence services have the ability to get into situations like encrypted WhatsApp. Asked if she opposed end-to-end encryption on Sky News s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Rudd said: End-to-end encryption has a place, cyber security is really important and getting it wrong costs the economy and costs people money.

So I support end-to-end encryption, it has its place to play.

But we also need to have a system whereby when the police have an investigation, where the security services have put forward a warrant signed off by the Home Secretary, we can get that information when a terrorist is involved. She denied what she was describing was incompatible with end-to-end encryption, adding: You can have a system whereby they can build it so that we can have access to it when it is absolutely necessary.

Rudd said she was calling in a fairly long list of relevant organisations for a meeting on the issue on Thursday, including social media platforms.

I would rather get a situation where we get all these people around the table agreeing to do it, she told Marr.

I know it sounds a bit like we re stepping away from legislation but we re not.

What I m saying is the best people who understand the technology, who understand the necessary hashtags to stop this stuff even being put up, not just taking it down, but stopping it being put up in the first place are going to be them.

Security services knew of glaring weakness in Parliament security after ‘war game’ simulating attack on Westminster …

WAR ON TERROR

Exercise revealed four gunmen could drive through Carriage Gates and massacre ministers inside the Commons

SECURITY services were aware of gaps in Parliament s security after a simulated attack ended with most MPs being killed, it has been claimed. A source quoted by the Sunday Times claimed a table-top exercise revealed four terrorists with automatic weapons could shoot their way into the House of Commons.

Security Services Knew Of Glaring Weakness In Parliament Security After 'war Game' Simulating Attack On Westminster ...

Reuters

Armed cops stand at Parliament s Carriage Gates after the attack

After speeding through Parliament s open Carriage Gates the same ones Khalid Masood charged through before stabbing PC Keith Palmer to death the gunmen were able to enter the chamber during a vote. The chilling result of the fictional scenario was that most of the MPs died , the source told the paper.

The war game, which took place within the last year, throws a disturbing light on security lapses during last week s terror attack at the Palace of Westminster.

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Questions are now being asked about why there were no armed cops posted to the vulnerable Carriage Gates when Islamist fanatic Masood ran through them brandishing two knives on Wednesday. And when the attacker was eventually shot dead, it was not by officers assigned to guard Parliament but by plainclothes protection officers assigned to Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon. The cops happened to be waiting nearby in the minister s car and reacted decisively to prevent Masood from entering the Commons.

One MP asked this weekend why the unarmed officers posted to the gates had received no warning as Masood headed towards them after mowing down scores of people on Westminster Bridge.

Security Services Knew Of Glaring Weakness In Parliament Security After 'war Game' Simulating Attack On Westminster ...

Reuters

A security review is expected to consider closing the Carriage Gates Breakdown of the Westminster terror attack that lasted 82 seconds

The gates which were open so MPs could drive in to attend a vote also remained unprotected for several minutes after the attack. Footage has emerged of a motorcycle delivery courier riding through them while officers battled to save Palmer’s life. A security review is now expected to consider either stationing firearms officers permanently at the Carriage Gates or closing them entirely.

Officials are also set to examine whether to increase the number of electronically locked doors amid claims that, if Masood had not been killed, he could have reached the PM in the Commons via three unlocked doors.


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References

  1. ^

UK minister says encryption on messaging services is unacceptable

By Elizabeth Piper[1] | LONDON

LONDON Technology companies must cooperate more with law enforcement agencies and should stop offering a “secret place for terrorists to communicate” using encrypted messages, British interior minister Amber Rudd said on Sunday.

Local media have reported that British-born Khalid Masood sent an encrypted message moments before killing four people last week by ploughing his car into pedestrians and fatally stabbing a policeman as he tried to get into parliament in an 82-second attack that struck terror in the heart of London.

There may be difficulties in taking on technology companies – in the United States, officials have been trying to make U.S. technology firms provide a way around encryption, talks that have intensified since a mass shooting in San Bernardino.

But while saying she was “calling time on terrorists using social media as their platform”, Rudd also appealed for help from the owners of encrypted messaging apps such as Facebook’s WhatsApp, backing away from seeking to introduce new legislation.

Asked for her view on companies which offer end-to-end encrypted messages, Rudd said: “It is completely unacceptable, there should be no place for terrorists to hide. 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.”

“We need to make sure that our intelligence services have the ability to get into situations like encrypted WhatsApp.”

According to technology magazine Wired, end-to-end encryption means messages can only be decoded by the recipient and not by anyone in between, including the company providing the service.

PRIVACY VS SECURITY

Brian Paddick, a home affairs spokesman for the opposition Liberal Democrats and former deputy assistant commissioner in the Metropolitan Police, said the security services could view “the content of suspected terrorists’ encrypted messages”.

“The real question is, could lives have been saved in London last week if end-to-end encryption had been banned? All the evidence suggests that the answer is no.”

The attack on Wednesday looks set to reignite the privacy-versus-secrecy debate in Europe, especially after warnings from security officials that Western countries will be increasingly targeted as Islamic State loses ground in the Middle East.

Rudd, appointed home secretary or interior minister shortly after Britain voted to leave the EU, said the British case was different when asked about Apple’s opposition to helping the FBI break into an iPhone from one of the San Bernardino shooters.

“This is something completely different. We’re not saying open up, we don’t want to go into the Cloud, we don’t want to do all sorts of things like that,” she said.

“But we do want them to recognize that they have a responsibility to engage with government, to engage with law enforcement agencies when there is a terrorist situation.”

She said she wanted to see an industry-wide board set up in Britain to allow technology companies to better police their sites and stop letting “their sites, their platforms, their publishing enterprises … being used by terrorists”.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Susan Thomas, Greg Mahlich)

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References

  1. ^ Elizabeth Piper (www.reuters.com)
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