UK Home Secretary urges tech firms to make their platforms accessible to intelligence services

After last week’s terrorist attack in London, UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd is urging tech firms to make their platforms accessible to intelligence services.

The Westminster Bridge attacker, Khalid Masood, is understood to have used the popular messaging app WhatsApp. However, due to encryption, authorities are unable to gather information on what the attacker said in his messages via the smartphone messaging platform.

The attacker reportedly used WhatsApp minutes before he carried out his attack that left three pedestrians and one police officer dead.

WhatsApp Messenger is a freeware, cross-platform and end-to-end encrypted instant messaging application for smartphones.

UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd appeared on BBC and Sky News asking for WhatsApp and other encrypted services to help intelligence services carry out investigations of this scale by making the platforms accessible to security agencies.

“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,” she said.

She said that “this terrorist [Masood] sent a WhatsApp message and it can’t be accessed.”

“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,” Rudd said during a BBC interview. “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.”

A WhatsApp rep was quoted by Recode as saying: “We are horrified at the attack carried out in London earlier this week and are cooperating with law enforcement as they continue their investigations.”