Apple, Google, Microsoft, and WhatsApp have opposed a proposal by UK spy agency GCHQ to give spies access to end-to-end encrypted communications.
Rather than add a backdoor or undermine encryption itself, technical whizzes from GCHQ and its cybersecurity unit, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), suggested that service provides like Apple, Google, and Facebook could “silently add a law enforcement participant to a group chat or call”. The proposed solution would be no more intrusive than the crocodile clip-style telephone interception used in the last century, the techies contended.
The idea would allow a company like Apple to add a “ghost” user, a law enforcement agent, to a chat. Encryption would remain intact, but a chat or messaging group would be compromised by the addition of a ghost user.
Despite the lack of a backdoor, the signatories think such a power could be harmful to users because it would break authentication systems and damage trust in mainstream identity systems.