'Real People' Don't Need Encrypted Messaging Services, Claims U.K. Home Secretary

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The U.K. home secretary Amber Rudd has argued that "real people" do not want secure end-to-end encryption on messaging platforms and are more concerned with usability and features than unbreakable security (via Yahoo News).

Rudd made her case in a newspaper article, published ahead of a meeting today with technology companies in San Francisco, where she will warn tech giants that their services are being misused by terrorists. Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Rudd said:

"Who uses WhatsApp because it is end-to-end encrypted, rather than because it is an incredibly user-friendly and cheap way of staying in touch with friends and family?

"So this is not about asking the companies to break encryption or create so-called 'back doors'.

"Companies are constantly making trade-offs between security and 'usability', and it is here where our experts believe opportunities may lie.

"Real people often prefer ease of use and a multitude of features to perfect, unbreakable security."

Rudd's comments were immediately criticized by privacy campaigners, with civil liberties organization Big Brother Watch calling her viewpoint "at best naïve, at worst dangerous".

"Suggesting that people don't really want security from their online services is frankly insulting," said Renate Samson, chief executive of BBW. "What of those in society who are in dangerous or vulnerable situations, let alone those of us who simply want to protect our communications from breach, hack or cybercrime."

"Once again the government are attempting to undermine the security of all in response to the actions of a few. We are all digital citizens, we all deserve security in the digital space."

Rudd is due to give her speech to tech companies like Twitter, Facebook, and Microsoft, in which she will urge them to do more to remove extremist content online or face new laws forcing them to do so.

Speaking to the BBC, Rudd said she wanted to work more closely with companies on encryption so that "where there is a particular need, where there is a targeted need" the government should be given access to metadata and encrypted content.

But Facebook's chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, pushed back against that argument, and warned about pushing criminals into even harder to reach parts of the internet.

"If people move off those encrypted services to go to encrypted services in countries that won't share the metadata, the government actually has less information, not more," she said.

Tuesday's summit is the first gathering of the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism, an organization set up by the major tech companies following recent terror attacks. Organization members are likely to resist any action that would result in compromised encryption, however.

In a joint statement, the companies taking part said they were co-operating to "substantially disrupt terrorists' ability to use the internet in furthering their causes, while also respecting human rights".

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

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43 months ago
It's quite simple according to the UK government. I use a VPN so i'm either a terrorist/paedophile, or I support terrorists and paedophiles.

Nothing to do with them wanting to monitor everything everyone does, all the time. No sir.
Score: 39 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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43 months ago
Theresa Mayhem and Amber Rudderless are on a quest to take away any semblance of privacy that UK citizens currently have.
Score: 35 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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43 months ago
Yet another attempt to try and break our privacy. rewind 25 years before txt and email, and it would be the same when the postal service would open every letter written, check the contents, before forwarding it on to it's destination. An absolute disgrace. We live in a world where we value our privacy, it's a right we have, I don't want it to be taken away.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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43 months ago

Well... When torrerist attack happen, you guys would question government ability to gather information and blame on government.

I support government have ability to monitor internet and communication activities so they can prevent next torrerist. The last thing I would worry is state reading all my emails. How likely is that. No government has reseouce reading billions text message everyday. But when government do need read potential torrerist email or text message, then government should have the ability to do so.

Lefties alawys want put things to the extreme. If you want hide something, you are doing something that need to be hide.

You're wrong.

As a UK citizen, I understand that the actions of a few idiotic religious nutjobs doesn't mean everyone else should give up their right to privacy. Target the terrorists in other ways, and don't tarnish everyone with the same misguided brush.

Secondly, I want to hide my bank account number from prying eyes, and send it to my Mum so she can transfer me some cash for my birthday. Why should that information be open to anyone (government, hackers, etc.)?

Finally, if we insert backdoors into encrypted messaging services, the terrorists will simply move to services that do not have backdoors (or create their own), and are not covered by any legislation Amber Rudd can dream up. So, the majority lose their right to privacy and nothing is actually gained. How does that help?
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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43 months ago
what is it with commonweath countries, russia and china being obsessed with spying on their own people
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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43 months ago
Politicians are "real people" right? Once we take away encryption from them and their dirty deals are revealed they'll pass laws in a week demanding its restoration.

It's unbelievable how your job can be to create laws without understanding what they mean or their repercussions.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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