London’s controversial police boss Cressida Dick used 9/11 to attack companies like Telegram, Signal, WhatsApp, and Apple for using end-to-end encryption. Her remarks came a few days after the Home Office announced it would award tech companies that would find a way to break end-to-end encryption.
In an opinion piece published in The Telegraph, Dick, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, while commemorating 9/11, noted that encrypted messaging services make stopping terror attacks difficult, and sometimes impossible.
“Twenty years ago, the world looked on as one of the most devastating terrorist attacks played out on television screens.
I was newly appointed as a Commander in the Met at the time. I watched on the 9th floor of Scotland Yard, and as the events unfolded I realized they would not only have a seismic impact in the US, but the aftershocks and reverberations would be felt here in the UK and across the entire world […]
9/11 was a watershed moment, confirming that terrorism was a truly global threat that required a global response. Since then, the terrorism landscape has changed and shifted in a number of ways. What began as our response to the rising threat from Islamist terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda in the early 2000s has continued through to confronting Daesh and their ability to inspire and direct attacks across the globe, through to the terrorist threat from extreme right-wing groups.
That global shift has only gathered pace in recent years with advances in communications technology. Terrorist groups – whatever their warped ideology or persuasion – have exploited this to reach, recruit and inspire anyone, anywhere and at any time through social media and the internet.
The threat of sophisticated terrorist cells being directed from overseas has been added to by that of the individuals carrying out rudimentary attacks with very little planning or warning. The current focus on encryption by many big tech companies is only serving to make our job to identify and stop these people even harder, if not impossible in some cases.”
Dick’s remarks underscore the general feeling of the Home Office, the ministry responsible for policing in the UK. Last week, Home Secretary Priti Patel announced an award for companies that would help “to keep children safe in environments such as online messaging platforms with end-to-end encryption.”