Does David Cameron really want to ban WhatsApp and Snapchat?

Yes he does

In the aftermath of the atrocities in Paris, David Cameron said a new Tory government would move to give security services access to currently encrypted communications, should extreme circumstances arise.

It sounds fair enough on the face of it, but has Cameron really thought it through?

In order to give security services this sort of access, providers of encrypted services would have to fundamentally change the way in which they work.

The upshot would include a blanket ban on everyday messaging services that depends on encryption, as well as bans for a host of other vital technologies.

This would include outlawing popular mobile apps Snapchat and WhatsApp, which both use encryption.

Speaking on Monday, Cameron asserted his belief that truly private messaging technologies should be unavailable to the public.

He said: “In extremis, it has been possible to read someone’s letter, to listen to someone’s call, to mobile communications.

“The question remains: are we going to allow a means of communications where it simply is not possible to do that? My answer to that question is: no, we must not.

“If I am Prime Minister, I will make sure we do not allow terrorists safe space to communicate with each other,” he added.

So far the Liberal Democrats have blocked legislation known as the “snooper’s charter”.

Meanwhile, WhatsApp has been vocal in its resolve to keep its service encrypted, particularly in the wake of the Snowden revelations about NSA snooping.

Cameron’s threat would also outlaw services including Apple’s Facetime and iMessage services which also use encryption.

But will Cameron really try to do it? It is election year after all.

It seems likely that Cameron’s authoritarian posturing is more a misdirected volley at “terrorists” in the hope that nobody will scrutinise the implications, and just vote for him.

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Readers' comments (3)

  • Anonymous

    This has nothing to do with terrorism. Cameron and his party are a bunch of fascists who want to implement a totalitarian surveillance state.

    Vote them out this May.

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  • Sometimes we grossly under estimate the stupidity of Politicians.
    David do you real believe that the bad guys would not use an alternative means of communication? For example non-repeating code words or their own unbreakable software encoding ciphers.

    Hint - Terrorists are not law biding citizens - surprising that isn't it!

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  • Diplo Docus

    Instead of inventing encryption that only government can break, we should just breed a special unicorn that magically blocks terrorist acts. Simple.

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