INFORRM has a compelling article from Paulo Garcia covering the practice of UK surveillance arm GCHQ in monitoring encrypted communications platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook.
The article considers recent regulatory changes and current practices which would permit law enforcement to monitor otherwise encrypted conversations over media platforms – otherwise known as “ghost protocol”.
In implementing ghost protocol domestic law enforcement is typically made party to otherwise end to end encrypted conversations prior to encryption. This essentially permits full access to otherwise secure communications between third parties. Many will note that the practice of GCHQ intercepting and monitoring communications excessively was recently scrutinised by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, with the extensive nature of surveillance found to be in excess of those permitted under the Investigatory Powers Act.
Therefore, such commentary is much welcomed in helping develop debate as to the proportionate application of legislative surveillance powers under the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 framework.