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Encryption now used to hide terror activities

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Governments claim need for backdoors and encryption keys for online communications.
Governments claim need for backdoors and encryption keys for online communications.

Governments claim need for backdoors and encryption keys for online communications.

According to Rob Wainwright, current director of Europol, sophisticated online communications are now the biggest issue being faced by security agencies in combating terrorism. He said, ?There is a significant capability gap that has to change if we?re serious about ensuring the internet isn?t abused and effectively enhancing the terrorist threat.?

He also urged that tech companies ought to consider the impact sophisticated encryption programs in use and its effect on law enforcement. It has, according to their studies, become central to the operations networks of terrorist cells throughout the world.

Across the Pond

Even the FBI has its take on the matter. According to FBI director Jim Comey, there is a need for a law to be passed by Congress to force tech companies to create a backdoor to any phone or communication tool made that uses encryption. This proposal involves direct extraction of information from the unit or the tech company?s database, even if there are already systems in place to allow for wiretaps, location monitoring and even code breaking technology available after the issuance of a warrant.

The FBI?s move comes after Apple had decided to encrypt iPhones by default. This would allow only the user to unlock a phone using a PIN code or password known only to the owner, not even Apple would know it.? Comey?s logic says this effectively muzzles investigations on terrorists and networks as the FBI would be ?going dark? when it comes to monitoring terror networks.

Tech Companies React

TechUK for its part, in a statement said, ?With the right resources and cooperation between security agencies and technology companies, alongside a clear legal framework for that cooperation, we can ensure both national security and economic security are upheld.?

Wainwright said that supporters of the Islamic State (IS) use encrypted communications and sites to source funding, radicalize its followers and gain new recruits. Another avenue is the use of social media by the IS in growing its network. He reported that IS has to about 50,000 Twitter accounts that tweet up to 100,000 messaged daily.

He further acknowledged that current laws in the UK are ?deficient? and there is a pressing need to ?ensure security agencies are able to monitor all areas of the online world.?

The official US government stand

The White House, for its part officially, said, ?(The Obama government) actually said there is no scenario in which the US government does not support strong encryption.? This though is countermanded by the proposal of the FBI Director.

Image courtesy of Creative Commons contributor Chris Potter.

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