Science & Tech

Tory MPs don't understand WhatsApp and it's beyond ridiculous

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On Sunday, Home Secretary Amber Rudd went on the Marr show to voice her outrage at WhatsApp's end-to-end encryption.

She demanded that social media companies remove these private guards, after it emerged that Khalid Masood, the perpetrator of the recent terrorist attack in London, has sent messages on WhatsApp moments before the attack.

She said:

There should be no place for terrorists to hide.

We need to make sure those organisations like Whatsapp and there are plenty of others like that don’t provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other.

She seemed to take her cue from one Sunday paper in particular:

People and some news outlets were quick to point out you can't selectively decrypt - it's not how the technology works - and that fighting terrorism by removing civil liberties, rather than enshrining them, seems like a defeat in itself.

Encryption wouldn't have stopped the attack - Khalid Masood was not being surveiled by the security services at the time as he was not on their radar.

In addition, WhatsApp don't have access to the messages of Khalid Masood - encryption is what guarantees they can only be read on the phones of the sender and recipient.

The police have Masood's phone and if they get through a passcode they can browse his phone.

If you give MI5 and GCHQ a backdoor into WhatsApp, it would render the entire service insecure and anyone's messages could be read. It's privacy for none or for all.

On Monday other news outlets weighed into the situation...

...and their headlines probably should have read a little differently:

The Ministry of Defence's former cyber security chief has accused the government of trying to "use the moment" of the Westminster attack to grab intrusive surveillance powers.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, he said:

I think there’s a lot of politics at play here.

There’s a debate in Parliament about the whole Snooper’s Charter and the rights of the state and I think what they are trying to do is use this moment to nudge the debate more in their line.

More: Amber Rudd talked about WhatsApp encryption and everyone is correcting her

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