As part of his plans for new surveillance powers, announced in the wake of the recent shootings in Paris,Ã‚Â David Cameron wants to blockÃ‚Â WhatsApp, iMessage, Snapchat and other encrypted messaging apps if he wins the next election.
The Prime Minister said today that he would stop the use of communication methods that cannot be read by the security services even if they have a warrant. That would include popular chat and social apps that encrypt their data, such as WhatsApp, who recently introduced end to end encryption.
Apple recently introduced encryption into their iOS devices that is impossible for them to undo, even if law enforcement has a warrant. Under Cameron’s plans, Apple would have to adapt its UK devices, or risk breaking the law.
At present, government departments like the Police and MI5 require written permission from the Home Secretary to look at a person’s online data. Even with that warrant however they still won’t be able to see everything as many online services and apps now encrypt all forms of communication following the Edward Snowden revelations.
All of the big messaging apps, including Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime, encrypt their data so could face a total ban after the next election.
Explaining his reason, the Prime Minister said:
Ã¢â‚¬Å“In our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people which we cannot read?Ã¢â‚¬Â
“My answer to that question is no we must not.”
“If I am Prime Minister, I will make sure it is a comprehensive piece of legislation that makes sure we do not allow terrorist safe spaces to communicate with each other.”
Whilst keeping the UK safe is clearly a top priority, the move is set to be incredibly unpopular with voters who have come to rely on these new forms of communication.
In practice, while the government could seek to impose a ban on encrypted communication apps, it would be almost impossible to prevent their use entirely.
And if this new legislation is pursued, the move is sure to face serious challenges from civil liberties groups.[signoff predefined=”Enjoy this?” icon=”users”][/signoff]