MI5 Argues for 'Exceptional Access' to Encrypted Messages

The director general of Britain's Security Service is arguing for "exceptional access" to encrypted messages, in the ongoing battle between authorities and technology companies, reports The Guardian.

MI5 Director warns of exp 008

MI5 head Andrew Parker

MI5's director general has called on technology companies to find a way to allow spy agencies "exceptional access" to encrypted messages, amid fears they cannot otherwise access such communications.

Sir Andrew Parker is understood to be particularly concerned about Facebook, which announced plans to introduce powerful end-to-end encryption last March across all the social media firm's services.

In an ITV interview to be broadcast on Thursday, Sir Andrew Parker says he has found it "increasingly mystifying" that intelligence agencies like his are not able to easily read secret messages of terror suspects they are monitoring.

Parker goes on to say that cyberspace has become an unregulated "Wild West" that is largely inaccessible to authorities, and calls on tech firms to answer the question: "Can you provide end-to-end encryption but on an exceptional basis – exceptional basis – where there is a legal warrant and a compelling case to do it, provide access to stop the most serious forms of harm happening?"

The U.K. government has long argued that encrypted online channels such as WhatsApp and Telegram provide a "safe haven" for terrorists because governments and even the companies that host the services cannot read them.

Tech companies have pushed back against various attempts by authorities to weaken encryption methods, such as the FBI's request that Apple help it hack into the iPhone owned by Syed Farook, one of the shooters in the December 2015 attacks in San Bernardino.

Apple famously refused to comply with the request, and has since consistently argued against laws that would require tech companies to build so-called "back doors" into their software, claiming that such a move would weaken security for everyone and simply make terrorists and criminals turn to open-source encryption methods for their digital communications.

On the opposing side of the debate, Britain's cybersecurity agency has proposed that if tech companies sent a copy of encrypted messages and the encryption keys to unscramble them when requested following a warrant, this would allow them to prevent terrorists and criminals from operating out of sight without compromising encryption methods.

However, given that encrypted communication services like WhatsApp and Signal do not have access to private keys that would enable them to decrypt messages, a back door would seem the only alternative.

A spokesperson for Privacy International, a technology human rights group, told The Guardian that strong encryption kept communications safe from criminals and hostile governments.

"The reality is that these big tech platforms are international companies: providing access to UK police would mean establishing a precedent that police around the world could use to compel the platforms to monitor activists and opposition, from Hong Kong to Honduras," the spokesperson added.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News 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

Munkypoo7 Avatar
18 months ago
How about no.
Score: 59 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DoctorTech Avatar
18 months ago
The nerve of citizens to think they have a right to communicate with someone else without their government being able to listen in on them... who do they think they are? You know what else would help prevent / solve crimes? Banning curtains and blinds. Just think about how many crimes are committed in homes and hotels around the world because people can do things without being observed. If we give governments the ability to look into everyone's living rooms, bedrooms and offices we could cut down on terrorism and might even catch someone with child porn. It may cost everyone what little is left of their privacy but it would help fight terrorism /s
Score: 34 Votes (Like | Disagree)
57004 Avatar
18 months ago
Parker goes on to say that cyberspace has become an unregulated "Wild West" that is largely inaccessible to authorities
I would argue the opposite. Intelligence agencies have enjoyed pretty much unlimited access to personal communications like they never had before. The Snowden leaks proved this in detail. They've been grabbing and cataloguing everything for over a decade.

Encryption breaks some of that but it only brings it back to the level it was before.

At least Britain can't push for these measures within Europe any longer.
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Winni Avatar
18 months ago
Yes. It's essential that a government and their intelligence agencies can spy on their own people...

Without privacy, there can be no freedom.
And in our digital world, without encryption, there can be no privacy.

"If you have nothing to hide, then you are nothing."
-- Prof. Dr. Shoshana Zuboff
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
xnu Avatar
18 months ago
Didn't that building get destroyed in the last Bond movie?
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
xxray Avatar
18 months ago
This makes me angry. Let’s ask all of these government leaders for a backdoor into their devices.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

AirPods Pro Beta Firmware

AirPods Pro Beta Firmware Now Available

Wednesday July 21, 2021 6:50 am PDT by
Upcoming AirPods Pro firmware updates are now available to Apple Developer Program members as beta versions. AirPods Pro firmware beta one features FaceTime Spatial Audio and Ambient Noise Reduction. Custom Transparency mode, including Conversation Boost, was initially expected to be included in the beta but appears to have been delayed for a later version. Apple made the announcement...
maxresdefault

Apple Music to Livestream Premiere of Kanye West's New Album 'Donda' on Thursday

Wednesday July 21, 2021 1:49 am PDT by
Apple Music on Thursday will host a global livestream for the premiere of Kanye West's tenth studio album, titled "Donda." The sold-out event will take place at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, and Apple Music's livestream will start at 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time. The livestream was revealed in a Beats Studio Buds ad that aired during the NBA Finals. The ad features U.S. track...
General Apps Messages

All Three Major U.S. Carriers and Google Adopt Rich Communication Services, But No Sign of Apple Interest

Tuesday July 20, 2021 1:15 pm PDT by
For the last several years, Google has been pushing a new communications protocol called Rich Communication Services, or RCS. RCS is designed to replace SMS, the current text message standard, and it offers support for higher resolution photos and videos, audio messages, bigger file sizes, better encryption, improved group chat, and more. Verizon today announced that it is planning to adopt...
ios wifi settings

Apple Confirms iOS 14.7 Fixes WiFi Bug and Many Other Vulnerabilities

Wednesday July 21, 2021 11:38 am PDT by
Following the release of iPadOS 14.7 this morning, Apple has shared details on the security updates that are included in iOS 14.7, iPadOS 14.7, macOS Big Sur 11.5, watchOS 7.6, and tvOS 14.7, all of which came out this week. Notably, Apple's documentation confirms that the iOS 14.7 and iPadOS 14.7 updates address a WiFi-related vulnerability that could impact iOS devices when joining a...
macOS Malware Feature

Common Windows Malware Can Now Infect Macs

Wednesday July 21, 2021 8:13 am PDT by
A common form of malware on Windows systems has been modified into a new strain called "XLoader" that can also target macOS (via Bleeping Computer). Derived from the Formbook info-stealer for Windows, XLoader is a form of cross-platform malware advertised as a botnet with no dependencies. It is used to steal login credentials, capture screenshots, log keystrokes, and execute malicious files. ...
macOS Big Sur Feature Orange

Apple Releases macOS Big Sur 11.5 With Podcast App Updates and Bug Fixes

Wednesday July 21, 2021 10:15 am PDT by
Apple today released macOS Big Sur 11.5, the fifth major update to the macOS Big Sur operating system that launched in November 2020. macOS Big Sur 11.5 comes two months after the release of macOS Big Sur 11.4. The new ‌‌‌‌‌macOS Big Sur‌‌‌‌ 11.5 update can be downloaded for free on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System Preferences. macOS Big Sur...
idos 2 app ios

Apple to Pull 'iDOS 2' DOS Emulator From App Store

Thursday July 22, 2021 3:22 pm PDT by
iDOS 2, an app designed to allow users to play classic DOS games, will soon be pulled from the App Store, the app's creator said today. According to iDOS developer Chaoji Li, he tried to submit an iDOS update with bug fixes to the App Store, but was told that the update was rejected because it violated the 2.5.2 App Store guideline that says apps cannot install or launch executable code.Durin...
airpods 3 gizmochina Feature

AirPods 3 Rumored to Launch Alongside iPhone 13 at Expected September Event

Friday July 23, 2021 12:54 am PDT by
The third-generation AirPods will likely launch at the same event revealing Apple's upcoming iPhone 13 lineup, according to a report from DigiTimes, which makes the claim citing sources familiar with the matter. The report as a whole echoes previous reporting that production of the third-generation AirPods will kickstart in August, meaning a launch shortly after can be easily expected. DigiTi...
iPad mini pro feature

Next-Generation iPad Mini Will Reportedly Feature a Mini-LED Display

Thursday July 22, 2021 9:03 am PDT by
Apple is widely rumored to be planning a new iPad mini with a significant redesign, including a larger 8.5-inch to 9-inch display with slimmer bezels, a Touch ID power button instead of a home button, a USB-C port instead of a Lightning connector, and more. According to a paywalled preview of a DigiTimes report today, the sixth-generation iPad mini will also feature a mini-LED display:BLU...
airpods 3 gizmochina Feature teal

AirPods 3 Mass Production Said to Kick Off in August

Tuesday July 20, 2021 8:40 pm PDT by
Mass production of the third-generation AirPods will kick off in August, according to a new report from Nikkei Asia. They will reportedly join a number of other products such as the iPhone 13 lineup and redesigned MacBook Pro models as launches coming before the end of the year. Renderings of rumored third-generation AirPods design Rumored launch dates for the third-generation AirPods have...