WhatsApp Should Not Be ‘Place For Terrorists To Hide’

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There should be “no place for terrorists to hide” and home secretary has said that intelligence services must have access to encrypted messaging services. Khalid Masood killed four people in Westminster this week. It was understood that his phone had connected to messaging app WhatsApp two minutes earlier. Amber Rudd said she would be meeting technology firms this week. A WhatsApp spokeswoman said the company was “horrified at the attack” and was cooperative with the investigation, said a WhatsApp spokesperson. Meanwhile, a 12th arrest has been made by officers investigating the attack. The 30-year-old man was detained in Birmingham on Sunday on suspicion of preparing terrorist acts.

All messages sent on WhatsApp have end-to-end encryption. That means they are unreadable if intercepted by anyone, including law enforcement and WhatsApp itself. So while Masood’s phone is believed to have connected with the app, police may not know what, if anything, was communicated. The company owned by Facebook, which has a billion users worldwide, has said previously that protecting private communication is one of its “core beliefs”. Tim Cook, the chief executive of Apple who makes use of end-to-end encryption, has previously said it would be “wrong” for governments to force Apple to “build a back door” into products.

The victims of the Westminster attack were commemorated at the beginning of England’s World Cup qualifier against Lithuania at Wembley Stadium. Before kick-off, four wreaths were laid in the center of the pitch by Metropolitan Police Acting Commissioner Craig Mackey, Culture Secretary Karen Bradley, London Mayor Sadiq Khan and FA chairman Greg Clarke. A minute’s silence was also observed by players and fans. Masood, 52, killed three people and injured 50 when he drove a car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge on Wednesday. He then fatally stabbed a police officer before being shot dead by police all within 82 seconds.

Will Knight, a senior editor at MIT technology Review says, a provider could co-operate with authorities and decrypt data. But done properly, encrypted data can be impossible or difficult to access. WhatsApp maintains only those involved in a message can read the contents due to end-to-end encryption. Scotland Yard has said it trusts Masood acted alone, and while officers were “determined” to find out whether he had been inspired by terrorist propaganda, it was possible his motive would never be admitted. A 58-year-old man, who was arrested in Birmingham the morning after the attack under the Terrorism Act, remains in custody, while a 32-year-old woman arrested in Manchester remains on police bail. Eleven people were at the first arrested over the incident and nine people in total have been released without charge.