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Backdoor access to WhatsApp? Rudd’s call suggests a hazy grasp of encryption

Backdoor access to WhatsApp? Rudd’s call suggests a hazy grasp of encryption

Is there going to be a backdoor access to WhatsApp soon?

The end to end encryption created by the popular messaging app “Whatsapp” seems to be “completely unacceptable” to the British government. Home secretary Amber Rudd has requested the tech companies to find backdoors to this end-to-end encryption of Whatsapp so that terrorists find no safe place to hide. The advent of the social media has given birth to several private chat boxes for people to converse. Most of these have take security measures to respect the privacy of the users.

While it has led to more secured socializing over the internet, it has also given a secured platform for antisocial activities. This is where the debate begins between the privacy of the users and the security of the nations.

Two years ago, when Paris suffered the brutal attack on Charlie Hebdo office, David Cameron had suggested that the government and the intelligent agencies should be invested with the legal power to have access to the encrypted conversations of terrorists over messaging apps and social media. Similar requests have been made to Whatsapp following the attack in Westminster for the sake of the safety of the country.

The tussle between government and the tech companies

None of the parties is ready to leave an inch in this struggle over security and privacy. While the government wants easy access into the conversations to able to track terrorist attacks and planning of suspected people through these messaging apps, the tech companies have strongly refused to compromise with the privacy given by them to the users. There has been a long going debate and legal struggle over this issue of privacy versus security.

Among recent examples that can be cited, the San Bernardino shooter’s case is the most relevant in this matter. The FBI wanted iPhone company to help them find access to the shooter’s iPhone but the company was just not ready to let go of the security of their system which could in turn jeopardize with the privacy of other users.

The struggle continued till FBI found another way to hack into the iPhone of the shooter and let go of their demands from the iPhone company. The information stored in the shooter’s phone was extracted by officials with the help of an unnamed group.

Backdoor leaves a way for exploitation

If there’s a backdoor for security reasons, there are high chances of misuse too. If the conversation over Whatsapp or other social media is not encrypted it simply implies that it is not secure. There cannot be a backdoor only meant for moral or legalized use.

If there is legislation for backdoor access to encrypted conversations over social media, it means that every time you chat with someone you may be under legal surveillance and your privacy may be at stake. This also leaves the door open for widespread control over private lives of people. There may also be high chances that cyber criminals misuse this backdoor access technique to violate your privacy.

While some feel that it is a matter of national security and doing away with end-to-end encryption is worth it for the sake of being safe, others opine that it is a direct approach over controlling people’s lives. At present, this never-ending debate is at its peak with the hope that there would soon be a way to selectively break encryption of terrorist conversations.

Tags : WhatsApp
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