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Big Interview: 'Why we want new legislation to access your phone' - Garda Commissioner Drew Harris

Ireland's Garda Commissioner tells Adrian Weckler that backdoor keys to encrypted services such as WhatsApp and iMessage would help fight serious crime. Would they be worth the privacy sacrifice?

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Debate: Garda Commissioner Drew Harris. Photo: David Conachy

Debate: Garda Commissioner Drew Harris. Photo: David Conachy

Apple CEO Tim Cook

Apple CEO Tim Cook

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Debate: Garda Commissioner Drew Harris. Photo: David Conachy

This week, Ireland's Garda Commissioner added his voice to those calling for a backdoor 'key' to encrypted devices such as iPhones. Drew Harris said that this would be "very useful" in investigating "serious crime, like child abuse". He also questioned why absolute encryption is completely necessary, suggesting a balance of rights ranged between privacy and security.

He even called for new legislation to compel the owners of encrypted devices to serve up their passwords or encryption keys. Do his comments represent a widening of international pressure on tech companies to moderate their stance on encryption or 'absolute' privacy?

How would such a move stand with privacy advocates and civil rights groups?