Maeve Campbell | Contributing Writer | Monday, 27 March 2017

Amber Rudd Calls For WhatsApp Messages To Be Tapped After Terrorist Attack

Amber Rudd Calls For WhatsApp Messages To Be Tapped After Terrorist Attack

The Debrief: Tapping into our WhatsApp messages: A breach of public privacy or the answer to preventing potential terror attacks?

Boasting over a billion users worldwide and with a reputation for protecting user privacy, WhatsApp is an app most of us use every day. But, could it be impeding public safety? 

Following the terrorist attack last Wednesday in London, Amber Rudd has urged that intelligence services be allowed to access our WhatsApp messages, in order to help prevent further attacks. 

Attacker Khalid Masood, who had already been convicted for violent crimes in the UK, is said to have used the messaging app just moments before he ploughed down members of the public on Westminster Bridge. It is therefore possible that the attack could have been averted if intelligence services had been able to track his messages, as well as gaining an insight into his potential motives. 

In 2016, WhatsApp introduced “end-to-end” encryption, which is a techy way of saying that only you and your recipient can read your messages and any other source that may attempt to infiltrate, cannot. At the moment, not even intelligence services are exempt. WhatsApp say: “Not cybercriminals. Not hackers. Not oppressive regimes. Not even us.”

So, are messaging apps like WhatsApp providing a space for terrorists to communicate freely? Amber Rudd’s appearance on the Andrew Marr show saw her branding it “completely unacceptable” to allow messages to remain un-tapped, given both the dangerous and unpredictable terror status in London. Rudd claims tech firms are going to be consulted and calls for Tim Cook, Chief Executive of Apple, to “think again” regarding the privacy policy of WhatsApp on apple iPhones. 


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