TECHNOLOGY companies must allow the security services access to messages in times of emergency, Home Secretary Amber Rudd has said. It follows reports that Khalid Masood, the man responsible for the terrorist attack in London on Wednesday, used the WhatsApp service to send someone a message just three minutes before he mowed down 40 people on Westminster Bridge. The inbuilt encryption of WhatsApp means police and MI5 have reportedly not seen the contents of that message.
Doing the rounds on the Sunday morning political TV shows, the Home Secretary said technology firms must build in back doors to allow security services to eavesdrop.
Rudd also insisted WordPress, and Google, who run YouTube, must realise that they are now publishers rather than simply technology companies, and so should do more to tackle extremist videos and blogs.
Although the Home Secretary said she would like companies to do this voluntarily and independently, she refused to rule out changing the law to force their hand.
Rudd told BBC One s Andrew Marr Show: It is completely unacceptable, there should be no place for terrorists to hide.
We need to make sure that organisations like WhatsApp, and there are plenty of others like that, don t provide a secret place for terrorists to communicate with each other.
It used to be that people would steam-open envelopes or just listen in on phones when they wanted to find out what people were doing, legally, through warrantry.
But on this situation we need to make sure that our intelligence services have the ability to get into situations like encrypted WhatsApp.
Asked if she opposed end-to-end encryption on Sky News s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Rudd said: End-to-end encryption has a place, cyber security is really important and getting it wrong costs the economy and costs people money.
So I support end-to-end encryption, it has its place to play.
But we also need to have a system whereby when the police have an investigation, where the security services have put forward a warrant signed off by the Home Secretary, we can get that information when a terrorist is involved.
She denied what she was describing was incompatible with end-to-end encryption, adding: You can have a system whereby they can build it so that we can have access to it when it is absolutely necessary.
Rudd said she was calling in a fairly long list of relevant organisations for a meeting on the issue on Thursday, including social media platforms.
I would rather get a situation where we get all these people around the table agreeing to do it, she told Marr.
I know it sounds a bit like we re stepping away from legislation but we re not.
What I m saying is the best people who understand the technology, who understand the necessary hashtags to stop this stuff even being put up, not just taking it down, but stopping it being put up in the first place are going to be them.
Security fears have been raised after it emerged that the gate of Parliament were left unmanned and open in the immediate wake of Wednesday’s terror attack. The footage, captured by The Times1, shows the aftermath of the assault on New Palace Yard in which PC Keith Palmer2 was stabbed to death. As armed officers swarm the forecourt, having shot dead terrorist Khalid Masood3, the imposing iron gate that allows vehicles to enter can be seen wide open.
No police officers are visible guarding the entry point, known as Carriage Gates, fuelling concern the attack might have been worse had Masood been followed by accomplices. Pedestrians are shown walking past and at one stage a courier on a moped appears to enter unchallenged. Yards away, separate footage showed Theresa May being rushed from the building and into a waiting car.
Although the gate was open for a matter of minutes, critics will use the brief security lapse to rebuke claims on Friday by Scotland Yard’s anti-terror chief that current arrangements were “proportionate”. Mark Rowley said that procedures for guarding Parliament had been designed so they were not “overly intrusive”.
“Our current arrangements have been developed with Parliament over many years and are designed to provide access to the seat of our government balanced with security that is proportionate but not overly intrusive,” he said. Parliament’s main entrance has two sets of large metal gates allowing vehicles to go in and out of the estate and they have traditionally been left open during the day.
A pair of smaller, makeshift gates was introduced more recently with two police officers at each to check passes and allow cyclists, cars and delivery drivers to come and go. Just inside the entrance gate, armed police are usually present and an unarmed officer sits in a booth by the exit. Electronic ramps are depressed and barriers lifted further into the courtyard after passes are checked using handheld machines which flash up with a picture of the passholder.
More police, some armed, are usually present after the final checkpoint. Wednesday s murderous rampage at Westminster left five people dead, including the attacker . Many more were injured.
Photographic evidence and witness testimony gathered by Amnesty International at the scene suggest that Palestinian security forces used excessive force to violently suppress a peaceful protest outside of the Ramallah District Court in the West Bank on 12 March 2017. Ten minutes after the protest against the prosecution of six Palestinian men, including slain activist Basil al-Araj, began outside the courthouse in al-Bireh area, Amnesty International researchers witnessed heavily armed security forces arriving, carrying batons and shields . They immediately began to charge towards the protesters, violently striking them with the wooden batons, using pepper spray and firing tear gas into the crowd . At least 21 people (13 men and eight women) were injured, including four journalists covering the event . Seventeen were hospitalized.
There can be no justification for violently storming a peaceful protest . Video evidence obtained by Amnesty International shows Palestinian security forces resorting to brutal and alarming means to crush the protest in flagrant violation of their obligations to uphold and protect the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
There can be no justification for violently storming a peaceful protest
Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International Palestinian security forces firing tear gas into the crowd to disperse the protesters outside courthouse in Ramallah Amnesty International
Following a public outcry, Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah today announced the formation of a committee to investigate the actions of the police at the courthouse.
The Palestinian authorities must ensure that the investigation announced into this incident is independent, impartial and thorough and that all those found to be responsible are held accountable for their actions, said Magdalena Mughrabi. International human rights standards require that police and security forces avoid using force to disperse a peaceful assembly. Amnesty International staff present at the scene observed no violence from protesters prior to police attacking them with batons, tear gas and pepper spray . Those injured suffered bruises from heavy beatings with wooden batons or after being struck by tear gas canisters .
Four journalists from Wattan TV, Roya TV1, and Palestine Today were also beaten in what appeared to be a deliberate attempt to prevent them from covering the protest . No injuries were reported among members of the security forces. Khader Adnan, a protester who was hospitalized for his injuries, told Amnesty International: I was standing peacefully when tens of baton-wielding soldiers attacked me and beat me to the ground . Once I fell down one of them stepped on my head while others continued to beat me, ripping my clothes . I have injuries on my back, my shoulders, and my leg.
I was standing peacefully when tens of baton-wielding soldiers attacked me and beat me to the ground
Khader Adnan, Palestinian protester
He was taken to the Criminal Investigations Department with six others where he says he was verbally abused before five of them were released . The other two remained in detention. Farid al-Atrash, a lawyer, human rights defender and the head of the Bethlehem office of the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights, who was present at the protest said he was beaten to the ground with wooden batons . He told Amnesty International he also witnessed police officers beating the father of Basil Al Araj, a Palestinian man who was killed by Israeli soldiers last week . I tried to protect him when I was attacked by the officers; they hit me to the ground and beat me on my legs, he said.
Father of Basil Al Araj, a Palestinian man who was killed by Israeli soldiers last week, was among those beaten by Palestinian security forces during the protest Amnesty International
Bassem Tamimi, a well-known Palestinian activist from Nabi Saleh and former prisoner of conscience was also injured in the demonstration . I can t believe they did this to us . I was speaking to the head of the police unit there telling him we will disperse in 15 minutes . We were almost done when I saw a large crowd of police begin to swarm us and attack in a vicious manner . They used wooden clubs and started to hit people left and right, I walked back when they shot a tear-gas canister directly into my lower back, hitting my tailbone . I didn t expect them to behave like this. Bassem Tamimi s wife, Nariman, also an activist from Nabi Saleh, was beaten after she intervened to tell security forces to stop beating and dragging a young man .
What did we do ? We did nothing wrong ! My shoulder and arm are now injured . I didn t believe they would do something like this, she said. One eyewitness, Hafez Omar, said the protesters were standing peacefully when the police told them to leave the area . When they refused, the police started pushing them and beating them with batons . He witnessed two other men being beaten before the police dragged him and beat him with batons on his arms, back and legs.
One of the protesters who was beaten with a baton on his shoulder and back waits at Ramallah public hospital for treatment Amnesty International
Between 100 and 150 people had gathered outside the courthouse in al-Bireh to protest against the prosecution of six Palestinian men accused of possessing firearms . Four of the men Haitham Siyaj, Muhammad Harb, Muhammad al-Salameen and Saif Idrisi are currently held without charge or trial in administrative detention by Israeli authorities . The fifth man, Basil al-Araj, was killed by the Israeli military last week . The sixth man, Ali Dar al-Shaikh was not arrested by Israel and was present at the court yesterday. In a media interview on Monday, a spokesperson for the Palestinian authorities security forces, Adnan al-Dmeir, accused the protesters of being mercenaries and foreign agents who he said were seeking to spread chaos .
In the rare cases where Palestinian authorities have taken steps to ensure accountability in the past, they have resorted to disciplinary measures2 rather than criminal prosecutions to hold police or security forces to account even in cases where the use of force was abusive or arbitrary.
The Palestinian authorities must ensure that the security forces use of force is not excessive, abusive, arbitrary or otherwise unlawful . Anyone suspected of responsibility for arbitrary or abusive use of force must be prosecuted in a fair trial, said Magdalena Mughrabi. Anyone suspected of responsibility for arbitrary or abusive use of force must be prosecuted in a fair trial
Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International
Given the Palestinian authorities poor record of bringing security forces to justice after violent crackdowns on protests, it is even more crucial for the authorities to send a clear message that use of excessive force will not be tolerated and that violations will not go unpunished.
Palestinian security forces police have used unnecessary or excessive force against peaceful demonstrators, including men and women, repeatedly in recent years. In a recent incident documented by Amnesty International, human rights lawyer, Mohannad Karajah, described how 10 members of the Palestinian security forces in plainclothes punched and kicked him and beat him all over his body with sticks at a demonstration on 4 October 2016 . At least five others were also assaulted .
No one has been prosecuted over the incident. In February 2016, mass strikes and protests over low wages for teachers were met with a heavy-handed response from Palestinian security forces who arrested 22 teachers and set up roadblocks around Ramallah to prevent teachers joining demonstrations. Palestinian security forces also used excessive force to disperse protests in previous years3.