With the spectre of terror attacks and insecurity worldwide, WhatsApp users may no longer be guaranteed privacy, as the British government is demanding access to encrypted messaging services provided by technology firms on mobile devices.
There must be “no place for terrorists to hide” and intelligence services must have access to encrypted messaging services, the Britain’s Home Secretary Amber Rudd has said.
It comes after it emerged that Khalid Masood was reportedly on the messaging app WhatsApp two minutes before an attack in Westminster in which he killed four people.
Police were unable to read his messages.
But labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said there was a balance between the “right to know” and “the right to privacy”.
Amber Rudd said she would be asking tech firms to “work with us” when she meets with them this week.
Speaking to BBC One’s Andrew Marr programme, Ms Rudd said: “We need to make sure our intelligence services have the ability to get into situations like encrypted WhatsApp.”
Encryption is a way of scrambling computer data so it can only be read by the people you want to see it.
All messages sent on WhatsApp have end-to-end encryption.
This means messages are unreadable if they are intercepted by anyone, including law enforcement.
The Facebook-owned company, which has a billion users worldwide, has said protecting private communication was one of its “core beliefs”.
Asked if there was an issue about giving the security services more powers to hack in to messaging services like WhatsApp, Mr. Corbyn told ITV on Sunday that they already had “huge powers” of investigation.
But writing in the Sunday Telegraph, the home secretary said she was asking companies like Google, Twitter and Facebook to be more “proactive” in tackling extremism.
In the Sunday Times, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson also called for internet companies to develop technology to detect and remove extreme material.
The calls come after Wednesday’s terror attack when attacker Masood ran down pedestrians and fatally stabbed a police officer who was guarding the houses of Parliament.
In total, five people died – including the attacker who was shot by police – and 50 others were injured, two seriously.
On Saturday, the Metropolitan police said they believed Masood acted alone. But they added they were also “determined” to find out whether he had been inspired by terrorist propaganda.
Credit: This Day