Wednesday 29 March 2017

Jack Dorsey Says Encryption Is 'Critical' To Web Security

Jack Dorsey

The founder of Twitter has defended technology firms in the wake last week’s Westminster terror attack.

Billionaire Jack Dorsey claimed that encrypting messages was “critical” to the security of web services.

Speaking to the Daily Mirror at the UK launch of his mobile payments company Square , he said it was vital for governments to understand the problem they were trying to solve before fixing on a solution.

“Encryption, and security in general, is often seen as an endpoint - which it’s not," he said.

“It’s a constant evolution, so you’re constantly making it better, you’re constantly making it stronger.

“I do think it’s critical. But what’s more important is making sure that we’re having an open dialogue with the government around what they’re asking for, and why.”

He went on: “We should make sure that we really understand the goal, and what problem we’re actually trying to solve, and then look at the full horizon of solutions and what each one means for both parties.”

His comments come after Home Secretary Amber Rudd accused online messaging app WhatsApp of providing a “secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other”.

WhatsApp, like many other online services, uses encryption to ensure that messages cannot be intercepted in transit, and only the intended recipients are able to read them.

Last week it emerged that Westminster attacker Khalid Masood had used WhatsApp minutes before he launched his onslaught that killed four people outside Parliament.

Because the message was encrypted, security services are unable to find out what he wrote.

“It is completely unacceptable. There should be no place for terrorists to hide,” Ms Rudd said.

Jack Dorsey

The Home Secretary also said internet companies need to do more to remove extremist content from their platforms. On Thursday she will summon technology bosses from Twitter, Facebook and Google for discussions.

In its latest transparency report, Twitter said it had removed nearly 377,000 accounts promoting terrorism in the second half of 2016.

This is not the first time encryption has come under fire following a major national security incident. David Cameron attacked BlackBerry Messenger and WhatsApp for their use of encryption following 2011’s London riots and 2015’s shooting at the offices of Charlie Hebdo.

However, Silicon Valley chiefs insist that encryption is vital to the safe running of the internet, and that weakening or breaking encryption would put web users at a much greater risk.

“Banning encryption in order to get to the communications of a select few opens the door to the communications of many, and renders us all less secure and our lives less private," said Tony Anscombe, senior security evangelist at Avast.

“It would be naïve of us to think that by removing the public methods of encryption which we use to protect our identity, our freedom of speech and to keep us safe from persecution, that those terrorist organisations will not develop alternative methods to encrypt their communications.

“If this were to happen, we’d only be pushing these people further underground, presenting a greater challenge to security intelligence services.”



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