“It is crucially significant that we can obtain their communications and when we can’t, it can give a black hole for prosecutors,” the expert said. Radicals are known to use encryption apps like WhatsApp and Telegram to talk, and an incapacity to obtain those messages has been a regular source of difficulty for law enforcement.
News releases that UK intelligence leaders believe that giving a compromise with these tech businesses is likely and are firm in the hope that encrypted information can be obtained with a warrant. Major tech organizations have been strongly against to building backdoors though because it would threaten their services’ security, so a settlement doesn’t look likely.
In a comment on its website, WhatsApp says that “we thoughtfully review, validate, and return to law enforcement requests based on relevant law and policy, and we prioritize answers to emergency requests.” Apps like WhatsApp use end-to-end encryption that mixes messages through a code. So WhatsApp can only hand over metadata like the record name and email address and can’t see the actual information being sent.
It’s not the first time the UK Government has tried to obtain messages sent on the apps. Earlier this year UK home secretary Amber Rudd said it was “totally unacceptable” that intelligence services could not see WhatsApp messages sent and obtained by Khalid Masood, the perpetrator of a terrorist attack at Westminster in London in March.
Past events like the San Bernardino attack saw an exhausting court case upon Apple for access to the defendants’ phones and only stopped when the FBI found a workaround to access the data.
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