UK Home Secretary Priti Patel is calling on Facebook to rethink plans to offer end-to-end encryption on messaging platforms like WhatsApp.
Patel says the plan would stop law-enforcers and governments gaining access to private messages that often provide vital evidence when a serious crime has been committed.
Facebook contends that people have the right to hold private conversations; a position the government strongly backed last month when it rejected demands from Parliament to release WhatsApp messages related to Operation Yellowhammer.
Despite calling for Facebook to make private correspondence between members of the public available to state agencies, the government previously maintained that releasing messages relating to Operation Yellowhammer infringed the human rights of MPs and their shadowy advisors.
“For once Ms Patel may have a valid argument,” says George Fishlove cybersecurity expert at the Institute of Expert News Contributors.
“If WhatsApp messages between Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings were encrypted, there would be no way for a future legal investigation to get hold of them.
“As it stands, the government refused to release them, but that doesn’t stop a future Judicial Inquiry requiring Facebook to hand over any evidence of criminal activity.
“To be honest if anyone in government actually understood the first thing about messaging technology, they’d be begging Facebook to encrypt their messages.”