Date
17 December 2017
Increased encryption is expected to block criminal hackers but also complicates the work of government anti-terrorism watchdogs. Photo: Internet
Increased encryption is expected to block criminal hackers but also complicates the work of government anti-terrorism watchdogs. Photo: Internet

Chat app fightback frustrates govt anti-terror monitors

Facebook, Google and other chat service providers are racing to lock down their messaging apps to prevent interception by governments and criminals, the Financial Times reported Wednesday.

The move comes amid calls from Britain for closer cooperation with tech companies in fighting terrorism.

Many leading messaging apps, including Facebook chat, WhatsApp Messenger, Google Hangouts and Snapchat, have no “end-to-end” encryption to secure user communications, according to Electronic Frontier Foundation, a US digital rights campaigner.

However, Nate Cardozo, an attorney for the foundation, said several tech companies are working privately to improve their encryption technology.

Such a move would frustrate monitors who track extensive use of chat apps and social media by terrorists to organise and publicise their attacks, the report said.

In the wake of last year’s revelations about the extent of online surveillance by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden, improving encryption is a “work in progress” for many tech companies, Cardozo was quoted as saying.

“They are hardening their products against bad actors [and] anyone who wants to get at your data,” he said.

These entities include criminal hackers and foreign governments.

“The fact that it makes it a little more difficult for intelligence agencies to get your data is a side effect, not the intention of the companies.”

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