UK home secretary urges access to London attacker's WhatsApp

Another security-versus-privacy war erupts following last week's attack in Westminster.

Zoey Chong Reporter
Zoey is CNET's Asia News Reporter based in Singapore. She prefers variety to monotony and owns an Android mobile device, a Windows PC and Apple's MacBook Pro all at the same time. Outside of the office, she can be found binging on Korean variety shows, if not chilling out with a book at a café recommended by a friend.
Zoey Chong

British Home Secretary Amber Rudd wants WhatsApp to give intelligence agencies access to encrypted messages following last week's Westminster attack that left four dead.

Appearing on the BBC's "The Andrew Marr Show", Rudd also called for social media giants to ensure that they don't "provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other." She plans to meet with social media companies later this week to seek their help in fighting terrorism, according to Bloomberg.

This is not the first time governments have taken issue with tech companies over access to encrypted content. In 2015, for instance, Hillary Clinton urged Silicon Valley to cooperate with the government's fight against terrorism. Just over a year ago, the FBI demanded that Apple give it access to San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook's iPhone 5C . A few weeks later, WhatsApp was at the center of a dispute with the Department of Justice over encrypted messages.

Police have reportedly discovered that the Westminster attacker, Khalid Masood, connected to WhatsApp three minutes before the attack. But they don't know the contents of any messages that he may have sent or received. This is because all messages sent on WhatsApp have end-to-end encryption, which means someone needs direct access to the device to read them.

WhatsApp did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.

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