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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.

Egypt says Sinai fighting kills 12 security forces

Militants killed 10 Egyptian soldiers and two policemen in the Sinai Peninsula on Thursday, underscoring the challenge security forces face in combatting an Islamic State affiliate in the restive area bordering Israel and the Gaza Strip. Army spokesman Tamer el-Rifai said the troops were carrying out a raid in which they killed 15 militants and arrested another seven. The three officers and seven enlisted men were killed by roadside bombs while in pursuit of the militants, he said. The Interior Ministry said the two police were killed near a police station in the city of el-Arish, where much of the violence has been centered.

Egypt has been battling an insurgency in northern Sinai for years. The army says it is taking the fight deeper into the peninsula’s sparsely populated desert and mountainous areas, targeting insurgent weapons depots and strongholds. Troops destroyed a large amount of explosives in the raid and seized other weapons, ammunition and equipment, including roadside bombs, computers, solar panels, documents and mobile phones, al-Rifai said. He released photos of the bodies of alleged extremists, wearing long tunics and baggy pants popular with jihadi fighters across the world. Weapons and equipment were also shown, as well as seven blindfolded men kneeling under guard by soldiers.

Both the army and the militants regularly claim battlefield victories that cannot be independently verified. Journalists are banned from the area. Earlier this month, the Sinai-based IS branch claimed responsibility for the killing of Col. Yasser Mohammed el-Hadidi, a senior officer in el-Arish, with a roadside bomb. It said it killed two other officers the following day. The group has also been behind a string of killings of Egyptian Christians in northern Sinai, which began in December and which has prompted much of the region’s Christian Coptic minority to start leaving the area.

The long-running Sinai insurgency grew more virulent after the 2013 military overthrow of Mohammed Morsi, an elected Islamist president, and the launch of a widespread crackdown on dissent. President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who as army chief led Morsi’s overthrow, praised Egypt’s long-running fight against militants. In televised comments, the Egyptian leader said the country’s security forces were flying the “banner of humanity, mercy, construction and development.”

“We are the true protectors of righteousness and we sincerely condemn all cowardly terrorist acts anywhere in the world,” he said during a ceremony honoring martyrs from the armed forces. El-Sissi also ordered the doubling of the budget of the military association that looks after the families of fallen soldiers and provides physical therapy for disabled troops. He suggested that members of the armed forces have a “symbolic” part of their salaries deducted as a donation to the association in solidarity with the wounded.

Nigerian Navy flags off joint maritime security exercise with US, Cameroon, 27 other countries

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The Nigerian Navy will on Thursday flag off a multinational maritime operation exercise christened Obangame Express . A statement signed by Suleman Dahun on behalf of the Chief of Naval Staff noted that the exercise is sponsored by the U.S. Africa Command and is aimed at improving regional cooperation, maritime domain awareness, information-sharing practices and tactical interdiction expertise. The exercise will also enhance the collective capabilities of the Gulf of Guinea and West African nations to counter sea-based illicit activity, Mr. Dahun, a Navy captain, said.

The Navy said Obangame Express will be conducted in phases within the territorial waters of the participating nations. The Nigerian phase of exercise is scheduled for March 24-28. Nigerian Navy Ship OKPABANA, Nigerian Navy Ship CENTENARY, Nigerian Navy Ship SAGBAMA and one helicopter will be participating in the Exercise along with a French Navy ship, JACOUBET.

The French ship will sail into the Nigerian waters from Cameroon, the Navy said. The ships will perform several exercises as will be presented by the exercise scenario.

Thirty nations are scheduled to participate in this year s exercise. They are Angola, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Cote d Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Equatorial Guinea, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, and Guinea-Bissau. Others are: Liberia, Nigeria, Norway, Mauritania, Portugal, Republic of Congo, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Spain, South Africa, Togo, Turkey, the Netherlands, and the United State.

Regional organisations including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) are also scheduled to take part in the exercise. Participants at the drill will create realistic scenarios that reflect past piracy incidents whereby a hijacked vessel will transit from one territory to another, the statement said. Maritime Operations Centres (MOCs) during the exercise will be challenged to recognise these illicit acts appropriately and share with other MOCs.

Additionally, the game will test the ability of all the participating maritime forces to patrol their respective economic zones and detect and prosecute illegal activity accordingly, the statement said.

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