British Home Secretary Amber Rudd – in charge of police policy in the UK – has told the BBC that Apple ‘cannot get away with’ apps that offer unbreakable encryption following last week’s terrorist attack in London.
Rudd was speaking after it was revealed that Khalid Masood accessed WhatsApp two minutes before ploughing through pedestrians on Westminster Bridge in a rented car, killing three of them, before fatally stabbing a police officer guarding the Houses of Parliament.
She described end-to-end encrypted messaging as used by WhatsApp and Apple’s Messages app as ‘completely unacceptable’ …
It is completely unacceptable, there should be no place for terrorists to hide. 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 […]
In this situation we need to make sure that our intelligence services have the ability to get into situations like encrypted WhatsApp.
Rudd continued with a confused statement in which she referenced Apple directly.
If I was talking to Tim Cook, I would say to him that this is something completely different. We’re not saying ‘open up,’ we don’t want to ‘go into the cloud,’ we don’t want to do all sorts of things like that. But we do want them to recognize that they have a responsibility to engage with governments, and engage with law enforcement agencies when there is a terrorist situation. We would do it all through the carefully thought-through, legally covered arrangements. But they cannot get away with saying we are a different situation. They are not.
So, er, that’s clear.
Member of Parliament Nadine Dorries added her voice to the controversy.
While tweeting from her iPhone.
‘Something must be done’ syndrome means that it’s commonplace for elected officials to demand backdoors to secure devices and messaging systems in the wake of terrorism, completely oblivious to the fact that you cannot have a loophole available to the good guys that won’t be discovered by the bad guys. As I wrote back in 2015 following the Paris attacks, Apple is right to stand firm on encryption no matter how much such attacks ramp up the pressure.
Photo: Terrance Gaines