The London police along with other agencies probing the deadly London terror attack have reached out to WhatsApp to declare details of the messages that prime accused Khalid Masood sent just prior to the attack.
Masood is accused of driving an SUV into pedestrians that left four dead before ramming it into the Parliament gates. There he stabbed and killed a policeman on duty before other security staff managed to shoot him down. The entire incident that left five dead and brought to focus the menace of Islamic terrorism has drawn international condemnation.
Police so far have arrested a dozen suspects since the Wednesday attack even though the Scotland Yard said Masood might be a lone player in the entire incident. Now with him being dead, police are searching for clues that could throw light on his activities in the run-up to the attack.
That, however, is turning out to the biggest obstacle so far given the end-to-end encryption technology adopted by the Facebook-owned WhatsApp in order to ensure complete privacy of its users. This makes it impossible for even WhatsApp other than the intended recipient to read the contents of a message. This again will no doubt bring back the focus to the ugly fight that the FBI has had with Apple over unlocking an iPhone device that belonged to another terror attack accused.
Britain’s Home Secretary, Amber Rudd appealed to WhatsApp along with other social media firms to ensure they do not end up being seen as propagating terror activities. This assumes importance considering the highest level of encryption that firms like Facebook, Apple and such have accorded to its users.
However, while the above is indeed commendable, the same being used by terrorists to propagate their hate campaign is definitely not. Systems are currently so designed that even the company providing the service have no way to keep track of what its users are transcribing over their networks. Maybe the need of the hour is to strike a middle ground, where genuine users get all the privacy they want though there should also be a secret backdoor sort of thing – if it can be so said – to ensure anyone using the service for their nefarious means can be tracked down.