Andreas Sandre


Encrypted technologies and terrorism

An armed police officer stands guard opposite the Houses of Parliament after the March 22, 2017 London attack. (Photo credits: AFP)

Meeting this week in the UK with tech companies following the London attack.

Following last week’s terrorist attack in London, the same day the foreign ministers of the Global Coalition against ISIS were meeting in Washington DC, British Home Office Secretary Amber Rudd has “summoned leaders of technology companies to a meeting” on March 30 — as reported by the Guardian .

The meeting will serve “to discuss what to do” in terms of accessing encrypted technologies for terrorist-related investigations and to talk about encrypted messaging as well as extremist content on Facebook, Google, and other social media platforms.

According to the Guardian, Home Secretary Rudd “has called for the police and intelligence agencies to be given access to WhatsApp and other encrypted messaging services to thwart future terror attacks, prompting opposition politicians and civil liberties groups to say her demand was unrealistic and disproportionate.”

Via The Guardian

“We need to make sure that organizations like WhatsApp, and there are plenty of others like that, don’t provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other,” Rudd told BBC’s Andrew Marr.

She added: “It used to be that people would steam-open envelopes or just listen in on phones when they wanted to find out what people were doing, legally, through warranty. But on this situation we need to make sure that our intelligence services have the ability to get into situations like encrypted WhatsApp.”

CNN reported that Rudd raised the issue with representatives of other European governments at a meeting today in Brussels to discuss the EU’s approach to cybersecurity. The meeting was chaired by Carnelo Abela, Minister for Home Affairs and National Security of Malta under the cureent Maltese Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

“Abela […] wouldn’t directly support Rudd’s call for companies to provide a backdoor into their apps but he agreed the matter needed further discussion,” CNN wrote quoting Abela as saying: “I think there is a fine line here, we need to protect the privacy of the people but we also need to protect the security of the people.”

In his introductory remarks at last week’s CVE meeting in Washington DC, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called upon all 68 members of the Global Coalition to counter ISIS to “deepen cooperation with the tech industry to prevent encrypted technologies from serving as tools that enable extremist collaboration.”

We need the global tech industry to develop new advancements in the fight, and we thank those companies which are already responding to this challenge.

“We must capitalize on the extraordinary advancements in data analytics and algorithmic technologies to build tools that discover ISIS’s propaganda and identify imminent attacks,” he said at the meeting hosted by the U.S. Department of State.

He added: “Researchers in the United States are already developing tools for sweeping the dark corners of the internet for ISIS material, but they need help to get to their destination even faster.”

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