Technology companies should no longer be able to provide encrypted messaging services that cannot be accessed in emergencies by the security services, the home secretary, Amber Rudd, said on Sunday. Speaking after it emerged that the police were investigating reports that Khalid Masood had used the encrypted WhatsApp service just before he launched the attack in Westminister, in which he killed four people, Ms Rudd said it was “completely unacceptable” that the police and security services were shut out from messages of this kind.
We need to make sure that organisations like WhatsApp, and there are plenty of others like that, don’t provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other.
The police and security services have for some years expressed concerns about the ability of firms to provide messaging services using end-to-end encryption that means texts and emails cannot be accessed in extremis by the service provider, or by the authorities demanding that information with a warrant. Ms Rudd stressed that she did not want the security services to be able to access all encrypted messages. She was just talking about “carefully thought-through, legally covered arrangements”, she said. Ms Rudd would not confirm who shot Masood, amid claims it was a bodyguard for Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon.