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Why The Government Shouldn't Break WhatsApp

56273 ratings | 1128681 views
Encryption backdoors - breaking WhatsApp and iMessage's security to let the government stop Bad Things - sounds like a reasonable idea. Here's why it isn't. A transcript of this video's available here: https://www.facebook.com/notes/tom-scott/why-the-government-shouldnt-break-whatsapp/1378434365572557/ CREDITS: Filmed at the Cambridge Centre for Computing History: http://www.computinghistory.org.uk/ Camera by Tomek: https://www.youtube.com/tomek Thanks to everyone who helped proofread my script! REFERENCES: WhatsApp's privacy protections questioned after terror attack: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-39405178 WhatsApp must be accessible to authorities, says Amber Rudd: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/mar/26/intelligence-services-access-whatsapp-amber-rudd-westminster-attack-encrypted-messaging UK government renews calls for WhatsApp backdoor after London attack: https://www.theverge.com/2017/3/27/15070744/encryption-whatsapp-backdoor-uk-london-attacks Investigatory Powers Act: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2016/25/contents/enacted India is 'ready to use' Blackberry message intercept system: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-23265091 Revealed: how US and UK spy agencies defeat internet privacy and security: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/05/nsa-gchq-encryption-codes-security Councils secretly spied on people walking dogs and feeding birds for five years: http://metro.co.uk/2016/12/26/councils-secretly-spied-on-people-walking-dogs-and-feeding-birds-for-five-years-6345051/ [This is basically a rephrase of https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/dec/25/british-councils-used-investigatory-powers-ripa-to-secretly-spy-on-public with a better headline] Poole council spies on family over school claim: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1584713/Poole-council-spies-on-family-over-school-claim.html Security services missed five opportunities to stop the Manchester bomber: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/05/24/security-services-missed-five-opportunities-stop-manchester/ Reuters reference to "500 active investigations": http://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-security-manchester-plots-idUSKBN18L1H0 AP: Across US, police officers abuse confidential databases: https://apnews.com/699236946e3140659fff8a2362e16f43/ap-across-us-police-officers-abuse-confidential-databases ME: I'm at http://tomscott.com on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tomscott on Facebook at http://facebook.com/tomscott and on Snapchat and Instagram as tomscottgo
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Text Comments (3090)
Tom Scott (1 year ago)
This is the first video from "The Basics", a series of three pilot computer-science videos I'm putting out in the next couple of months. This one's opinionated; one's explanatory; and one demonstrates coding. It's been a while since I've done this sort of thing -- thanks to the folks who helped proofread my scripts!
pandaboye (1 day ago)
Tom Scott Thank you for this video. I know it’s old, but I’m really glad someone is speaking up about this. As someone who could be banned from some countries purely for things I have discussed online, I appreciate it.
K LAPSE (4 months ago)
There should be a right to privacy act under which any government organisations cannot access and kind of personal data including messages.
Baldeep Birak (5 months ago)
Great video topic Tom.
Peiyao Liu (8 months ago)
love your tech videos Tom!! would you make more in the future?
notsosmart 1 (1 year ago)
Tom Scott ii
Heidiguard (2 days ago)
Thanks for the bit about 'I have nothing to hide'! I keep trying to explain this to people who splash their entire life all over the internet and people don't get it. But I didn't realise WhatsApp was actually that secure. I just assumed Facebook was reading along every word and saving every photo sent. Intersting info, this.
D e v i a l (2 days ago)
"nothing to hide nothing to fear" is a really stupid argument. Just because I don't have anything illegal on my phone/in my chat history what ever, doesn't mean I don't have anything deeply private or embarrassing on it
Safaa Lag (4 days ago)
I think its a bad idea because it will be abused as you have said. I dont think its gonna make such a big change in helping crime
Pixieinhiding (5 days ago)
I can only just make out the noise from the screens I reckon a year or two down line I won’t be able to at all
BIll Geo (7 days ago)
soooo.... what happened???
Renzo Coppola (8 days ago)
it's already broken, it's using diffie hellman with some things on top that require mesage tracking
I can't listen to any noise also.
Meme Maker 9000 (11 days ago)
my ears hertz
Kage Shi (17 days ago)
Laws are not always for the people. Encryption is something I have always used for personal file storage. Within the US it is legal for them to force you to use Biometric methods to gain access to your electronic devices and accounts. However should you need a novel worth of input to mount an encrypted drive it is not likely any data on such will fall into anyone's hands.
john smith (19 days ago)
do one on how to stop the far right when privacy and public are so easy to merge. Good shows but remember that there is another side.
Matt Yabs (21 days ago)
What’s the point of the backdoor? Anyone can just type their text into any app after encrypting it using the same method.
Michael Stewart (22 days ago)
‘They pay some tax’ quality 😂
p1rgit (24 days ago)
reminds me of Person of Interest... insanely, crazy good show. starts like average detective and ends like sci fi... well, come to think of it, finale of PoI is likely prequel to Matrix. i do not remember details, smth like two AIs fighting - but result was... i do not remember. if not specified, then lo and behold: matrix has you. :)
cataria (25 days ago)
let's see, do i have sth. to fear, from a government, that creates false flag attacks, that kill innocent people to take away more freedoms from me, well... maybe having proper encryption to protect oneself from a psychopath evil government isn't such a bad idea... hm :D
Rawrawr (27 days ago)
Thank you seriously for speaking the truth, and thus helping to defeat the evils of communism; if we call out their exploits and the excuses to "justify" allowing them all, they will certainly lose.
Sillimant (30 days ago)
I have nothing to hide. But politicians do. Hypocritical slime balls should have no power like that
Bruce IDW (1 month ago)
How could anyone trust anything made/owned by Facebook? I’d love to see Apple just say NO, ok we won’t sell iPhones in your country. See if you get re-elected after everyone with an iPhone can’t use it and nobody can get the next iPhone, etc. Call their damn bluff. Countries like Ireland let apple get away with not paying taxes just to have them located there... they’re not banning iPhones.
charlesmcguffy (1 month ago)
Sadly the government can just read the messages before the encryption takes place
alex turton (1 month ago)
Love your videos. Thanks
Happy Aaron (1 month ago)
So the governent wants to see what we're talking about. So us, the people want to see what happens in area 51.
Mobius312 (1 month ago)
Imagine this backdoor being used in ukraine or mongolia by Ethnic terror groups to isolate multinational couples for execution, or used by intelligence agencies of collapsed governments to track down people who may have served in a specific operation, it's not just a threat to the global public it's a threat to people in any position, that may have a loved one back home they contact through social media while they served in any situation (Military, intelligence, medical aid, disaster relief, anti-terrorisim, are just a few examples ) somehow or any number of issues, it's a good idea on paper but not in practice.
Kazim Kalkan Presents (1 month ago)
U know MI6 an CIA use games like Apex to talk to other intelligence? Maybe they have already cracked it but they aren’t saying.... 🤷🏻‍♂️🤷🏻‍♂️
Wayne Carr (1 month ago)
I think one reason for WhatsApp started to use encryption was that they feared that people would swich to Telegram which had encryption in place earlier than them.
leVinchy (1 month ago)
We just need a powerful AI to monitor people.
Ginger Ninja (1 month ago)
*Maths* not math. You’re English, Tom!
Romeo peter (1 month ago)
This was an interested topic, I'm watching this in 2019 and I look forward to seeing more videos like this one. One major thing you said that I agree with because I was thinking the same thing was that creating a backdoor by certain government in country will not only affect that country but also every other countries involved in using an end-to-end encryption service like WhatsApp.
Johl Brown (1 month ago)
@Tom Scott there's a really loud 15-22khz tone in the background of this
Evanski (2 months ago)
Every government agency needs to Back off and let people have their privacy, to spy on people to "counter terrorism" is like me taking your credit information and selling it to people so it can not be stolen
Prince Nephron (2 months ago)
10:25 - "Like a lot of ideas SOUND reasonable... but the devil is in the details" Almost like he's talking about socialism/communism.
Space Cowboy (2 months ago)
Strange, few seem to get this is not something new. Most dont even know one of the main intentions of why computers were made public. It was not for your pleasure if you did not know, at least not yours alone anyway. Its kind of like saying how do you prove a criminal did this or that, if no one seen the crime. I know forensics, yada yada yada crosses your mind no doubt but im making an old school reference there. I get the whole concept of oh Im shocked some corporation of gov or whatever would dare spy on you. But again do you really grasp the hidden part of why the computer was made public to the masses, most dont. As I said this is nothing new, and by the time you actually grasp what I said here, or what others like the guy in the video is saying, well your way way behind the times, and most have no idea they even are. Almost nothing digital now days is private in the sense you might like to think. But this brings us back to does it even matter, because by the time you get it, and then start to think oh no this could be bad, well like I said its been going on for a long time already and your still ok right. Just saying to those who can read between the lines. This is nothing new or just starting, those in power and control been planning things before you even imagined the concept of such, and things are always put into play way before that even.
Yalkın ÇIRAK (2 months ago)
I dont understand why everyone is so concerned about government reading their messages, see browsing history etc. Why do you even want to keep that a secret? Are you planning a terrorist attack? What are you doing that requires to be secretive
G G (2 months ago)
Americans: My phone spies on me 24/7? What do I care? Americans: I got offended because I found a hidden camera in the bathroom 😖
Dax (2 months ago)
So i can get locked up for buying 0.5g of weed because it is illegal in my part of the world ? nothx
Michael Scofield (2 months ago)
They could just arrest you, tie you to a chair. Drug you and ask for the password.
69bits (2 months ago)
334214467 × 817504243
Refined Gentleman (2 months ago)
The one week I spent in London was rather disturbing because it seemed like there never was a street without a camera. I saw cameras everywhere not just at train stations or very important spots. Do people from the UK enjoy being watched all the time? Does it solve so many crimes people just shrug their shoulders?
Mohamed Almosawi (2 months ago)
Cant we use third party apps to encrypt the messages that we sent to WhatsApp that will encrypted again(by WhatsApp) then delivered to the other person and decrypted (by WhatsApp)then a third party app ill decrypt it again so no one can listen?
Fried Mule (2 months ago)
"If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear" does imply "I have done nothing wrong so lets remove privacy" and is stupid as saying "if you have nothing to say, then let's remove freedom of speech".
razor Sam (2 months ago)
Could the government require that they can turn off encryption for a specific user but due to the fact that previous messages were encrypted they can only see the new ones that aren't
Bkmd100 (2 months ago)
you can decrypt end to end encryption using quantum computers, and yes they exist and the governments have them.
ClickThisToSubscribe (2 months ago)
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Do you have any?
TheOfficialDeathmark (2 months ago)
that high pitched background noise doe yikes
Vincer (2 months ago)
Everytime i see someone arguing over privacy they go with the same old moral arguments, and vilifying any other povs to the point i wonder if most actually imagine companies and governments all interested in the minutae and particulars of their lives- not entirely far from the truth but overly exagerated. Then i see this. Conscise, to the point, and heck i can't believe that after watching hours of videos on the subject you still brought one or two points i hadn't heard before. Amazingly well put.
Gora Elec (2 months ago)
Australia, are you listening?
Rei (3 months ago)
Laws and governments change...and if you’re not a criminal today you will be tomorrow *sheds tear* I had in my data analytics a request for whats app information last month...
Rei (3 months ago)
They’ve already done this in aust...help
Rei (3 months ago)
no warrant needed
kalucky0 (3 months ago)
I'm waiting for Thanos of the Internet
Richard Vaughn (3 months ago)
As socialism takes on a bigger role in western society mass surveillance will become more prevalent.
Roland Lawrence (3 months ago)
indeed internet snooping and vast data slurping reaches into people private lives in the way that even the stasi would be embarrassed about having.
mattr8750 (3 months ago)
That simple explanation of how encryption and public-private keys work was awesome! And those algorithms are free and open for any coder to use - and there are many, many coders that would know how to use them. As such if criminals really wanted to, if they themselves didn't know how to code it up, they could easily find someone who could quickly make them a bespoke end to end encryption app, there would be no way for a government to know it even existed, let alone neutralize it.
Erik Krauss (3 months ago)
What ended up happenings
Renan T (3 months ago)
Aidan Standing (3 months ago)
i have heard that the australian goverment are trying to get back doors put into all encryption
MrBluemoon74 (3 months ago)
Here's an idea to make this work: If a government party gets a legal wiretap, they generate a public/private keypair and force WhatsApp to install the public key secretly on the subjects phone. All messages the subject 'sends' are encrypted twice, once of the person it intended for and once for the agency each with a different key. Each message the suspect receives will also get reencrypted with the public key and send to the agency. WhatsApp can monitor how long the agency has a legal wiretap and automatically remove the second encryption when it runs out. The agency can only monitor the messages send and received during the wiretap and because it's keys are generated especially for this wiretap no keys are shared between wiretaps of different persons. It does mean that WhatsApp needs to modify it's code to let the second encryption take place in the background as well as accommodate the extra traffic between the subjects phone and the agency but it is a reasonable compromize.
nonedescriptivepresence. (3 months ago)
Hasn't at this point been proven that Whatsapp sells people's information and that it no longer is a secure messagging app?
Orlando Morris-Johnson (3 months ago)
Well the Australians passed those laws anyway
TomaattiKeitto (3 months ago)
You maybe dont have anything anything to hide but you have everything to protect
Neko (3 months ago)
so how did this end? Do they have a backdoor now ?
ElCris009 (3 months ago)
Nah,i still prefer the privacy, cuz, we dont have nothing more now...
Garret James (3 months ago)
What if each message was individually encrypted so that a warrant could only retrieve relevant content from a specific time and thread?
Jan Henriksen (3 months ago)
Apart from some agencies There is many potential unquallified users. In the goverment. So really a verry bad ideal.
waynesagich (4 months ago)
Derrick Sonnier (4 months ago)
This might be the best video on YouTube
kunal pahuja (4 months ago)
Join my rare steak cult
Eric Taylor (4 months ago)
"As long as you keep your private key secret..." But is this really possible? Is there any way to keep anything 100% secure? It isn't, because if enough people are working to breach that security, there is a near certain possibility that someone will try something those who created the security device never thought of.
Woklan (4 months ago)
rip Australia
Crypto Dream (4 months ago)
Why to use necryption then, the principle of cryptography is make data safer, hiding it at plain sight, with a backdoor that principle is broken. Politicians are socyopaths looking for power, they dont understand/care about technology.
edward andrew Mowbray (4 months ago)
if they want to read your messages they will just make a screenshot and send it to themselves. the picture will be really small. no decryption needed...
K. Chris Caldwell (4 months ago)
Only a criminal government need spy on the people. _Liberty is a demand. Tyranny submission._
Felony Videos (4 months ago)
Government, even the best of them, is MUCH more dangerous than terrorists.
Norica (4 months ago)
Here in Russia government tried to gain Telegram encryption keys, but failed. They tried to ban the App, but failed. Best advertisement ever
Ramsey Being (4 months ago)
Surely Apple can read WhatsApp messages? And any intelligence agency that has a backdoor to Apple.
The Part Time Economist (4 months ago)
Thank you for the video!
Nev Ermind (4 months ago)
How would they stop competent criminals from using RSA cryptosystem algorithms written in Java... while never using a private key on a computer with direct internet access? It would just affect incompetent criminals (and a few innocent people).
Alex Nosihtam (4 months ago)
This video is particularly important now that Australia has just passed a bill on 'Anti-Encryption'.
Bud ASMR (3 months ago)
Sucks, doesn’t it? Wish they’d take more action on the people they’re apparently keeping tabs on, rather than nosing on what every single civilian is doing.
Splitface2811 (4 months ago)
And now the Australian government has gone and done just this. Politicians who have no grasp on the technology we use every day should not be able to make decisions for laws related to tech.
Alex Shield (4 months ago)
awesome video. worth the time
Ben Stankovich (4 months ago)
Keep in mind that currently, if your private key is revealed, your past messages are secure thanks to perfect forward secrecy.
Bozocow (4 months ago)
6:55 Suddenly I realized that you did this all in one take. Now I'm very impressed.
A Wanderer (4 months ago)
Use Telegram App
Danny Hop (4 months ago)
Mathematically improbable - not impossible. You're welcome.
Pawel W (4 months ago)
You are right! It SEEMES like a reasonable idea.
iTacoTuesday (4 months ago)
Yeeeeaaah I can’t hear the high pitched noise.
Tinfoilpain (4 months ago)
Not only that, if you introduce a government backdoor - you put the trust into the government software... **looks at Hawaii Missile System & VA payment system**
markomus (4 months ago)
No mention of Signal app? It's Signal's encryption engine upon which those others are based
Ben 1337 (4 months ago)
the "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear" argument can be debunked simply by asking "What's your bank account number then?" But you hide your pin number because you don't want everyone to steal all of your wealth, this works with information as well, buying & spending habbits.
Mr. Jackal (4 months ago)
"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." -Benjamin Franklin
Charlie Weir (4 months ago)
Semi prime encryption
李家豪 (4 months ago)
For anyone who is interested in that prime factorization, it is 334214467 * 817504243 = 273221744844483481.
XantheFIN (5 months ago)
Telegram! Baby!
XantheFIN (5 months ago)
Meh.. Facebook already reads all WhatsApp messages FOR SURE. They just denies that.
Andrew Hutchinson (5 months ago)
Well said!
Blue Roots Denver TV (5 months ago)
very well stated good sir!
Alokym's channel (5 months ago)
To the top!
Lafeo 007 (5 months ago)
Well thought, well said! Perfect!
Quick Games (5 months ago)
From this video i think that you would like a game called "Orwell" its avalible on steam and if you ask me really well done
mellow m (5 months ago)
so its illegal there to make jokes. this sounds so messed up, the government looking into your personal conversations to see if you said a joke, and coming to arrest you if you did?
Gaar Fruit (5 months ago)
11:11 Prime number 😉
Agil Asadi (5 months ago)
Hope they do that, so I can build an alternative to whatsApp with no goverment accessing to you personal information

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