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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.

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.


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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  1. ^ Elizabeth Piper (

Blackout successful in security, investigation business

Guy Black has gathered at least two cherished memories during the 11 years he s been in business with his Blackout Investigations and Security Services: protecting Playboy bunnies at a dance club in the District and standing next to rapper P. Diddy, aka Puff Daddy, or now Diddy, for four hours while he signed autographs at a Prince George s County music shop.

It gives you a different insight into these celebrities because you re standing there listening to them, watching them. P. Diddy is just like he shows himself on television: He s kind of tough. He s demanding, the retired Maryland state trooper and La Plata resident said. Black started the Waldorf-based Blackout two months after retiring as an assistant commander in 2006. A second knee surgery a third came later, putting him on artificial knees led to an offer of a medical retirement.

I retired in July of 06, and I sat home for two months, the former Marine said. I realized I was way too young to sit home: This can t be what I always dreamed of. He was 50 at the time.

Two months of fixing everything I could fix, planting everything I could plant, I realized I had to find something else to do, he said. Back in 2000, Black was in charge of the Maryland State Police s division that handles licensing for security guard and private investigation agencies, special police, railroad police, K-9 services and security systems installations. That experience led him to start Blackout.

Today, he has around 90 employees, 40 of whom are full time and the other 50 or so are what he calls part time, anytime. They come from all walks of life but, not surprisingly, many have some background in police and security work. Tonya Ridgeway of Waldorf is one of Blackout s lead supervisors that works with clients on security plans and does spot checks to make sure guards stay on their toes and are doing the work required. Ridgeway spent six years as a police officer in Richmond, Va., and another six as a deputy sheriff in Virginia before signing on with Blackout three years ago, starting out doing guard work.

Things are a little different here. It was a period of adjustment from the way the commonwealth handles things, Ridgeway said. We have sites not only in Maryland but also in D.C., so the laws are different.

Every day is a new experience no day is the same.

On that theme, Black recalled a stakeout he once did for a divorce investigation. A woman was believed to be having an extramarital affair, and Black needed to get solid evidence of that for his client, her husband.

I followed her to this guy s apartment complex. She went in about 8:30 that night. At that point, I m in the parking lot with my video camera in my truck and I m having to sit there and wait, Black said. She didn t come out for about 10 hours. So, 10 hours I spent in a car. He said he had to keep a log and take a picture periodically to document how long he d been there and show that her car was still there.

If I m putting together a case for the client, I have to be able to verify that he or she went in the building at 8:05, he said. At 9:05, she was still inside I normally take a picture of the car in the same position 10:05, 11:05, same thing, documenting and taking a picture so the client will have all that information. At 5:30, 6 o clock she finally walks out. By this time, I m worn out. All the while, he had to keep from looking suspicious to others and drawing attention from police officers patrolling the area.

You have to have dark window tint because people can pull up and see you sitting in a car, he said. You hope it s not cold so you re not having to run the car all night because people will wonder why that car is out there running. I ve been pulled up on by the police because I was sitting in a community with the lights off and the car running.

Other investigative work includes workmen s compensation fraud and employee theft cases.

With workmen s comp fraud, an individual has claimed an injury on the job and he s refusing to come back to work. He shows up at his doctor s visits with his neck brace on, and he walks out the door and pops it off and throws it in the back seat, Black said. We do that kind of work, also. Those are the good ones. Or you get an individual who s suing someone he s claiming he can barely stand up. There we are behind him, or sitting in the bushes somewhere, filming [him] at a golf course swinging a golf club. That part of it s rewarding, because you re saving a company a lot of money.

None of these things happen on a regular basis, he said, The majority of our work is guard service. Black said he has contracts for security work in Charles, St. Mary s and Prince George s counties, but most work is in D.C. He got his license to operate in Virginia about a year ago but hasn t landed any regular contracts there yet.

One thing about these contracts, once you acquire them you have to have people to go out and supervise them, he said. I couldn t take a contract in Richmond, because I d have to send someone down there on a daily basis to check these people. We ve been looking at Fairfax, Arlington, Alexandria close by. Patrick Waring of Waldorf, who maintains a full-time job in an unrelated field, started as a security guard six years ago but quickly moved into a supervisory position the following year.

I wanted something to do as a part-time job, Waring said. There was a lot of flexibility with the hours. I kind of like always working.

Waring has been around long enough to see the company grow, and has gotten to know Black well. He met him at a health club before signing on for guard work.

To me, it s an honor to work for Mr. Black, Waring said. I knew him before, but I ve really gotten to know him on the job. He s a hard worker, but he cares about his employees. The Governor s Office of Minority Affairs agrees: It recently presented Guy Black with a Governor s Citation recognizing his contributions to the Southern Maryland business community. Black s community involvement includes serving as a Charles County Liquor Board commissioner and serving on the boards of the Southern Maryland Minority Chamber of Commerce, South County (Prince George s) Economic Development Association and the Derek Whittenburg Foundation in Raleigh, N.C., which helps students financially to finish their education.

Black was also a competitive weightlifter and started the Maryland State Police s weightlifting team, which won titles at competitions around the world.

My pastime is still weightlifting, he said. The [Maryland Independent] did a couple of articles on us when I was part of the state police weightlifting team. I don t compete anymore. I haven t competed since my last knee surgery back in 09. But I still train because you never know when you have to be in good shape.

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