Friday 20 April 2018

Flanagan on the wrong line over phone snooping technology

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Stock picture
Ronan Price

Ronan Price

He just doesn't get it. Like legions of politicians before him, Charlie Flanagan has fallen into the trap of advocating an impossible solution to an intractable problem.

Whatever about the Big Brother-ish notions of shadowy surveillance of our emails, Facebook status updates and tweets, Mr Flanagan is on to a complete loser when it comes to WhatsApp, iMessage, etc.

In the UK and US, similar political proposals for a "back door" allowing police to intercept these services have been met with derision. Services such as WhatsApp and iMessage deliberately use end-to-end encryption to protect users from hackers. This means that not even WhatsApp owner Facebook or Apple can read what you send or receive.

Read More: Minister vows to clamp down on messaging services after attacks

As Apple boss Tim Cook said in 2015: "If you put a key under the mat for the cops, a burglar can find it too. Criminals are using every technology tool at their disposal to hack into people's accounts. If they know there's a key hidden somewhere, they won't stop until they find it."

Trying to stop terrorists mobilising with such common messaging tools would be like playing whack-a-mole - they would simply shift to a different service. There are many other technical ways to track suspects that do not put the rest of us at risk.

Irish Independent

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