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Terrorists use the internet to communicate

  Forum Editor 09:46 06 Jun 2017

beacuse they can do so, sure in the knowledge that security agencies will not be able to read messages that are sent via apps - like WhatsApp and Telegram - which automatically apply end to end encryption to every message.

End to end encryption effectively scrambles messages as they travel between sender and receiver, so they cannot be read by an intercepting party - even by security agencies.

Theresa May has - since the London Bridge incident - spoken about the internet being a 'safe haven' for terrorists, and she's right. The problem is, what can be done about that? Preventing social media companies from using end to end encryption is one thing, but it would simply result in terrorists designing and using their own messaging apps, and legal users would be deprived of the security they want for their personal messages.

It's a nightmarish scenario, and nobody has yet come up with a solution. Would you be happy to see services like WhatsApp and Telegram being prevented from encrypting your messages to your friends and family?

  john bunyan 10:27 06 Jun 2017

I don't know the technical details but I believe that , on application to a senior security official or a judge, that agencies such as GCHQ would have a key to decrypt messages from high risk subjects.

  Forum Editor 10:45 06 Jun 2017

john bunyan

"...agencies such as GCHQ would have a key to decrypt messages from high risk subjects."

No such 'key' exists. No third party can see a message that is encrypted using this technology.

  LastChip 10:45 06 Jun 2017

I suppose the question is, how much of our privacy are we prepared to give away in order to help thwart terrorist attacks. As you say FE, accepting a (valuable) loss of privacy is no guarantee it will have the desired effect.

The trouble is, once you accept something like that, it's never rescinded even when the threat is long gone and far too many people have access to the data.

While I (like most others) am appalled at the recent events, I'm very sceptical about loosing privacy and am not convinced it would be effective anyway.

  Forum Editor 10:53 06 Jun 2017

It seems to me that - however much it hurts to say it - we cannot stop terrorists using technology to communicate securely.

What we can do, however, is use intelligence services to identify real and/or potential terrorists and make it more difficult for them to operate. Surveillance is a powerful weapon in this respect, but to work properly it must be funded properly, and that's the problem - are we all happy for much larger sums of public money to be diverted in this way?

  Aitchbee 11:08 06 Jun 2017

Even if the internet was completely abolished or dismantled, terrorism would still exist.

  oresome 11:38 06 Jun 2017

I doubt surveillance would have detected or prevented the latest attack in London.

Unless we go down the route of internment where suspicion and someone's judgement is sufficient to incarcerate, I see little chance of preventing acts of violence that require little planning, being perpetrated by lone or small groups using vehicles and household implements as weapons.

Even if the vehicle had been followed, it would still have mounted the pavement and mowed down pedestrians and the terrorists would have been difficult to shoot at when surrounded by members of the public and would have had time to inflict further injuries.

The fact the perpetrators hold no fear of being killed in the act makes it doubly difficult to counter.

Can you imagine the political outcry if internment was introduced and the martyrs it would create and the likelihood of an increase in atrocities.

  Cymro. 11:41 06 Jun 2017

I see no point in making things even easier for the terrorists. So if anyone wants to read my communications they are more than happy to do so as I have nothing to hide. As for our paying for such things well good security is worth paying for.

  oresome 12:00 06 Jun 2017

These acts are naturally uppermost in peoples minds at the moment, but to add some perspective, around 1,800 people die on our roads every year and 187,000 are injured and we have become accustomed to it and find the risk / benefit of travelling acceptable.

The point being that we should not allow terrorism to change our way of life.

  Forum Editor 13:48 06 Jun 2017


With respect, there is no comparison whatsoever between people killed in road accidents and people deliberately mowed down on our streets, or blown up by bombs.

By no stretch of the imagination could the risk of being killed in this way be termed 'acceptable' and I was very surprised to see you inferring otherwise.

  john bunyan 15:09 06 Jun 2017

GCHQ and it's predecessor, Bletchley Park have defeated most encryption since Enigma and Code Purple. I would be surprised if they cannot crack any encryption in time. Terrorists, of course, will keep trying and we must be prepared to be taxed to spend more on cyber warfare and surveillance, both of communications and of people.

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