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UK government demands backdoors in end-to-end encryption

UK’s Home Secretary Amber Rudd is meeting with tech firms on Thursday to persuade them to cooperate in creating backdoors in end-to-end encryption of instant messaging tools for law enforcement to intercept private communication between terrorists.

Rudd is so far displeased with their efforts and wants them to assume responsibility for terrorist situations, according to an interview for BBC.

“It is completely unacceptable, there should be no place for terrorists to hide. We need to make sure that organizations like WhatsApp, and there are plenty of others like that, don’t provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other,” she said. “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 warranty. But on this situation we need to make sure that our intelligence services have the ability to get into situations like encrypted WhatsApp.”

Concerns that law enforcement can’t intercept instant messages have increased after the terrorist accused of last week’s attack in London sent a WhatsApp message to an unknown contact a few minutes before the attack.

“This end-to-end encryption protocol is designed to prevent third parties and WhatsApp from having plaintext access to messages or calls. What’s more, even if encryption keys from a user’s device are ever physically compromised, they cannot be used to go back in time to decrypt previously transmitted messages,” according to WhatsApp, which says its top priority is protecting private conversations.

End-to-end encryption does not allow conversations to be intercepted, even by law enforcement. Unless companies cooperate, government agencies are willing to hire hackers to decrypt communication, even though it will be difficult, if not impossible. Rudd pointed out the importance of a partnership between tech companies and law enforcement, and the creation of backdoors in encryption.

About the author

Luana PASCU

From a young age, Luana knew she wanted to become a writer. After having addressed topics such as NFC, startups, and tech innovation, she has now shifted focus to internet security, with a keen interest in smart homes and IoT threats. Luana is a supporter of women in tech and has a passion for entrepreneurship, technology, and startup culture.

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  • This is the “shooting the messenger” analogy at it’s finest. Putting the blame on encryption and privacy technology on phones is like suing and blaming the cars/truck brands for allowing a terrorist to commit mass murder in their vehicles but I don't see the uproar over that from UK Government. The real issue here is not about having access to terrorists information to protect us, it’s having access to everyone’s information to control us, that kind of power is far more important and too good an opportunity for those many corrupt in power to pass up.