‘No place to hide’: UK Home Secretary urges end to WhatsApp encryption after London attack

Sunday, March 26, 2017
By Paul Martin

26 Mar, 2017

Following the London terrorist attack, UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd has demanded that intelligence agencies be given access to WhatsApp messages, warning it is “completely unacceptable” to let terrorists benefit from end-to-end encryption.

“That is my view – 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,” Rudd told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday.

“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,” she added

Her statement comes on the heels of the deadly attack in London last week, when Khalid Masood, said to be a Muslim convert inspired by terrorist propaganda, rammed a rented car into dozens of pedestrians before stabbing a police officer to death at the gates of the British Parliament.

The home secretary also argued that Britain’s intelligence services must have “the ability to get into situations like encrypted WhatsApp,” referring to media reports mentioning Masood’s appearance on WhatsApp just minutes before the attack.

The phone in contact with Masood has been linked to a flat located above a curry house in Hagley Road, Birmingham, according to the Daily Mail. Hours after the attack, police arrested two suspects, a woman, 21, and a man, 23, on suspicion of involvement in the attack. In total, eleven people were arrested after the attack, but eight were later released without charge.

Rudd also insisted that social media platforms should begin taking more responsibility for removing extremism-related content, adding that she has a “fairly long list” of tech companies for a meeting on the issue this week.

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