WhatsApp, iMessage and other forms of encrypted IM, such as Snapchat, could be banned if the UK’s Snooper Charter has its way. And you’ll never guess the reason why…
Yep – terrorism, that old chestnut.
In a bid to better “fight terrorism” the powers that be want access to all communications. The logic being that if a message from a dangerous person can be intercepted then the security forces or police can do something about it.
Applications like WhatsApp, iMessage and Snapchat now use encryption, however, and this makes life difficult for Big Brother as it can no longer just hack into your phone, tablet or PC and read your messages and communications.
A new Investigatory Powers Bill, nicknamed the Snooper’s Charter, if passed into law, would require all tech companies to store communications data for up to a year. This way, if something is fishy the feds have a year to peruse your private messages.
“In our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people which we cannot read?” said prime minister David Cameron back in January.
“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,” he explained.
Plenty of smart people have said this is a bad idea, too. And not just those apposed to Tory idealism, either. Apple has always maintained its customers have the right to freedom, for one. Ditto for BlackBerry and WhatsApp.
A new MIT report titled “Keys Under The Doormat” advises any action which affects the dynamic of communications and the internet should not be taken lightly, as the effects could be disastrous.
“In the wake of the growing economic and social cost of the fundamental insecurity of today’s Internet environment, any proposals that alter the security dynamics online should be approached with caution,” they argue in the 26-page report.
“Beyond these and other technical vulnerabilities, the prospect of globally deployed exceptional access systems raises difficult problems about how such an environment would be governed and how to ensure that such systems would respect human rights and the rule of law.”
The phrase, ‘cutting off your nose to spite your face,’ springs to mind. Have the UK governing elite not learned anything in the past 10 years about the internet?
They banned Pirate Bay but the website is still up and running. It didn’t KILL piracy. Time and time again, it seems as if The Powers That Be will do the stupidest thing in order to isolate that one needle in a haystack. But in this context, as before, the ends rarely justify the means.
Does it really think forcing tech companies to stop encrypting their services will help in the fight against terrorism? What about banks? They use encryption. Ditto for the US and UK governmental agencies.
Or is this just an initiative to spy on normal everyday people like you and I?