London attack: Politicians v the internet

Prime Minister Theresa May has said more must be done to tackle terror online.

In a speech on Sunday, following the terrorist attack in London, she said the internet provided a “safe space” for extremist ideology to breed.

But technology companies and cyber-security experts have warned that tighter regulation of the internet will not solve this problem.

Encryption: The issue

Messages sent online can be scrambled as they leave one device and they remain scrambled until they are deciphered by the recipient’s device.

This is end-to-end encryption, and it stops messages being read by third parties – be it criminals or law enforcement – if they are intercepted.

This adds valuable security to the messages we send online, which could contain private information, bank details and personal photographs.

Some apps such as WhatsApp already add end-to-end encryption to messages automatically.

However, this does mean that theoretically messages can be sent that police or other authorities cannot read if they intercept them.

On Sunday, Mrs May said there should be no messages that law enforcement “cannot read”, while Home Secretary Amber Rudd said she wanted tech companies to “limit the use of end-to-end encryption”.

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