Gov accuses Whatsapp of creating security 'black hole'

The government has reportedly accused WhatsApp of creating a "black hole" in security intelligence by refusing to give it access to people's encrypted messages.

This is according to Sky News, which quoted an anonymous security source, who claimed that terrorists are "frequent users" of encrypted apps because they know no one can read their messages.

"It is crucially important that we can access their communications - and when we can't, it can provide a black hole for investigators," the source added.

Other platforms such as iMessage and Telegram also protect messages using encryption and do not allow the government access to the information.

WhatsApp does, however, allow authorities to see other information such as an account name, when the account was created, the last know IP address used to access the service and the email address associated with each account.

However, WhatsApp made it clear it wants to protect its users, and this means messages must stay encrypted and hidden from authorities, just as they should remain protected from potential criminals.

"Naturally, people have asked what end-to-end encryption means for the work of law enforcement," the company explains on a statement on its website. "WhatsApp appreciates the work that law enforcement agencies do to keep people safe around the world.

"We carefully review, validate, and respond to law enforcement requests based on applicable law and policy, and we prioritise responses to emergency requests."

The news comes after Theresa May stressed the importance for technology companies to do more to help the government identify security threats following the Parsons Green tube station bomb attack last week.

Clare Hopping
Freelance writer

Clare is the founder of Blue Cactus Digital, a digital marketing company that helps ethical and sustainability-focused businesses grow their customer base.

Prior to becoming a marketer, Clare was a journalist, working at a range of mobile device-focused outlets including Know Your Mobile before moving into freelance life.

As a freelance writer, she drew on her expertise in mobility to write features and guides for ITPro, as well as regularly writing news stories on a wide range of topics.