Dutch Head of Central Intelligence Proposes Weakening WhatsApp and Telegram Encryption

End-to-encryption has been a thorn in the side of politicians and law enforcement agencies for quite some time now. Rob Bertholee, Head of central intelligence service AIVD, wants to limit the usability of encryption in social messaging apps.Notably Whatsapp and Telegram are mentioned, allegedly to facilitate anti-terrorism measures in The Netherlands

AIVD Wants To Limit Encryption

It is not the first time government officials say doing something about end-to-end encryption. In their opinions, these solutions make it easier for terrorist cells to communicate using mainstream apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram. Weakening the encryption levels in these applications is a very drastic idea that will affect millions of users around the world.

Rob Bertholee mentioned how he feels encryption is a facilitator of terrorist communications. The Dutch Cabinet does not feel the need to create a new legislative framework to address end-to-end encryption. Protecting sensitive user information and respecting user privacy are their top priorities, while the AIVD has an entirely different agenda.

So far, end-to-end encryption hasn’t been proven to play a role in terrorist communication by any means. It is possible criminals rely on WhatsApp and Telegram to communicate. But they may also use IRC, Skype, or pigeons to relay messages. Smoke signals are also a possibility, although that would be rather silly to use.

Interestingly enough, Bertholee acknowledges respecting privacy is important. At the same time, he fails to understand how companies and privacy advocates can make this a top priority above anything else. Slapping on the “national security threat” sticker on end-to-end encryption will just not work.

Ever since end-to-end encryption was introduced by WhatsApp in April of 2016, there has been a lot of opposition by governments and law enforcement. The company values user privacy and wants to keep their conversations safe from prying eyes. That is not to the liking of governments, as was to be expected. This story will undoubtedly continue to evolve in the coming months.

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