WhatsApp is a popular app in many places, and for good reason. It seems like the app has gained a lot of traction because of the security of the messages. The data is encrypted and personal data is protected. However, it seems like the UK wanted to have a backdoor in order to investigate encrypted messages. And the company has declined according to a source provided by Sky News.
The British Government reportedly asked WhatsApp in a meeting during summer to produce technical solutions that would allow backdoor access to messages. However, WhatsApp denied this effort fearing for the privacy of consumers in general. This basically brings back the question of where to draw the line between “Privacy” and “Security”.
See, the UK government wants to do this because they want to protect their people. However, 80% of investigations regarding terrorism are brought to a halt thanks to Encrypted Data. “It is crucially important that we can access their communications — and when we can’t, it can provide a black hole for investigators,” the source said.
And what happens when you have absolute freedom in regards of your data being encrypted? How about the fact that extremists use WhatsApp (And Telegram for that matter) to communicate? An inability to access potential criminal data basically means that there will be no evidence of the planning of an attack. This could basically drop down the efforts made by multiple security organizations because they don’t know who is attacking until it’s too late.
And what can be done about this? It’s certainly hard considering the fact that WhatsApp wants to continue protecting their consumers. WhatsApp says it “appreciates the work that law enforcement agencies do to keep people safe around the world. We are prepared to carefully review, validate and respond to law enforcement requests based on applicable law and policy”.
The reason why WhatsApp finds themselves hard to comply to the security requests is because they can only provide meta data about the user. In other words, they can only share the Profile of the person in question and not their messages.
This is starting to become more concerning now that terrorist groups are learning how to be more “Tech Savvy”. These are people who are using encrypted communication methods to kill other people. This is one of the biggest factors behind the San Bernardino attack. Something needs to be done about this, and fast.