As messaging and social media apps become more receptive to recent claims of government snooping, app makers are using new encryption methods in order to protect user data and conversations. however, a recent claim by UK Prime Minister David Cameron that such encrypted services may be banned in the UK is causing uproar in the tech world.
Fans of Snapchat and WhatsApp have been shocked by the politician’s claims that if he returns to power following the next election he’ll push forward a bill that will mean the banning of encrypted messaging apps as part of a wider bill that will force tech companies to store people’s messages and data for lawmakers to access.
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Indeed, Cameron’s proposal basically means that if the UK security services can;t get their hands on personal data and messages from an app, then that app will be banned in the UK. In other words, if they can’t snoop, you can;t use the app in the UK.
“Are we going to allow a means of communications which it simply isn’t possible to read?”
“My answer to that question is: ‘No, we must not.’ ”
– David Cameron, UK Prime Minister, Conservative Party.
The usual excuse is being used to allow the proposals to even be considered – the threat of terrorism and organisation of terrorism through social media. Cameron didn’t reveal any sort of concrete plans or ways in which the measures would be enacted, or on what services the apps would be removed from.
Governments don’t necessarily have the power, or the means to control apps in such a way, but the idea of apps and services being prohibited from use by the people of the UK is abhorrent to users – with critics online and in social media likening the situation to some kind of Orwellian dystopia.
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Following the recent Charlie Hebdo attacks in France, EU politicians have been pushing for further transparency from social media and online services, in order to prevent further attacks. Over in the US, Google and Apple have both resisted demands from the government and government agencies there, beginning to implement encryption on their services and devices in defiance of demands.
It’s really not a certainty that the bill will go through parliament, or that public outcry won’t be able to prevent the banning of services here in the UK. It’ll be yet another waiting game for UK tech fans for more information, but if it comes to it, app fans may have to consider open protests if the legislation isn’t slowed down. A final note, this legislation is all dependent on whether Cameron returns to power following the next election. Food for thought.
Source: NY Times