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David Cameron Threatens Ban on Encryption to Gain Access to Citizen Communications

David Cameron Threatens Ban on Encryption to Gain Access to Citizen Communications

by Clay Michael GillespieJanuary 13, 2015

British prime minister David Cameron suggested that he will outright ban encrypted communications because they cannot be read by security services. “I think we cannot allow modern forms of communication to be exempt from the ability, in extremis, with a warrant signed by the home secretary, to be exempt from being listened to,” Cameron said to ITV News on Sunday. “That is my very clear view and if I am prime minister after the next election I will make sure we legislate accordingly.”

The threat toward a ban on encrypted messaging is on the heels of the terrorist attacks in France, similar to when the United States government passed the Patriot Act following the chaos of 9/11.

Cameron went further into his plan and his thought process behind his threats:

“I have a very simple approach to this issue which is that ever since we faced these terrorist threats it has always been possible, in extremis, with the signature of a warrant from the home secretary, to intercept your communications, my communications, or anyone else, if there is a threat of terrorism. That is applied whether you are sending a letter, whether you are making a phone call, whether you are using a mobile phone, or whether you are using the internet.”

Also read: Goodbye Skype, Hello MegaChat: Kim Dotcom Reveals Encrypted Video Call and Chat

Major Apps Would Be Affected by the David Cameron Ban

David CameronIf David Cameron passed legislation banning encrypted messaging, popular apps like Snapchat and WhatsApp. Apps like Telegram would surely get the boot as well.

However, apps like FireChat may be able to stand a chance. Seeing as they do not use the internet or data connection to message, they may be untraceable to some extent. Of course, the world governments are quite good at finding ways to monitor communications, so it’s unknown whether or not they’ll give FireChat a pass.

The hardest part about Cameron’s threat is that encryption is quite easy as long as someone understands how it works. Emails and chats can be encrypted quickly, making it quite difficult for anyone to throw a sweeping ban on them simply.

“Obviously we are in a coalition,” Cameron said. “We have made progress on this issue by passing the new law which makes sure we protect some of the abilities we have to stop terrorists.”

“But as I say, in 2016 when this law comes to an end a future government will have to have a more comprehensive approach and I know absolutely that if I am prime minister I will put that approach in place.”

Photograph courtesy of Wikimedia Commons; other images from Shutterstock.

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  • WHAT?! This is horrific.

  • Marco Maltese

    How can one think this can be even done?
    It’s like war on drugs: it can’t be won.
    When AN ENTIRE POPULATION wants to do something, trying to stop that population to do it, is just MADNESS.

  • sinmantky

    That means financial sites cant use HTTPS or TSL or other methods… not a great idea…

  • WeeWax

    This fool needs to be dragged out into the street and be repeatedly kicked in the crotch until something smart comes out of his mouth. I hope Anonymous hacks the living crap out of him, actually I know they will.

    • digitalmatt

      Or, how about all of his private communications made available for public scrutiny as that’s what he wants his people to have access to from the public.

  • Bitcoins and Gravy

    Cameron is a tool for the powerful fascists who will enslave us if we let them.

    • sjs

      You won’t have to ‘let them’. They are all interconnected and have ‘the law’ on their side and if you don’t ‘comply’ for the ‘good’ of the nation and mankind in general you’ll ultimately get ‘locked up’ and I won’t come to visit you. 😉

      • relic5150

        Spoken like a true imbecile.

        • sjs

          Oh it’s you, out of the asylum on day release and you’ve managed to connect to the internet and type a few words.

  • João Oliveira

    At some point we’ll have to stand up for our own good or these ignorants will destroy all chances of progress. We need a voting tool running on the blockchain to quantify public opinion through a reliable voting system that can be translated into real bills in the parliament.

  • anon

    Once again Camaron has shown his utter contempt for the average person let alone people who need encryption for legitimate work, take, for example the investigative journalist. in addition banks need encryption to preserve the security of financial transactions., encryption is required for the protection of sensitive information. And how in hell can he glibly say that he would be subject to the same strictures. elsewhere this government has make it very clear they wish to absent themselves from their obligation to uphold peoples human rights. How can we be certain that the attack in Paris was not stage managed by Britain and its allies in order to give credence to the “requirement to push for a ban on encryption” It does seem a bit too much of a coincidence that this incident has happened so close on the heels of the governments push for extreme “anti terrorism” measures. Lets face it even if encryption was banned outright, it would do nothing, zilch. nada. to prevent determined terrorists from accomplishing their objectives, get real Cameron. if you ban encryption you leave people wide open to exploitation by naferious individuals. namely the very terrorists you perport to be attempting to foil.

    • Fear Propaganda

      Well Said

    • digitalmatt

      Investigative journalism? Don’t you mean, “traitors to the state”? /s

      • anon

        I know where my loyalties lie on this one.and its not with that ignoramus of a prime minister. prime pillock more like.;-) seriusly if he implements his proposed policy on letting the government have unfettered access to your and my data on the strength of a court order that will most likely be granted by a judge sitting in camera

        . probably no reasonable prospect of appeal against such an order let alone any redress for wrongful intercept and very likely no right of access to intercept material by a defense lawyer on the grounds of”national security” .

        • digitalmatt

          I agree 100%. Now what will it take to wake people up that the things done in their name for safety are putting them in danger?

          • anon

            NO easy answer to that question unfortunately but one thing is for sure. we are going head long into one mother of a war. not a pleasant thought. unfortunately sheep will be sheep no matter what you tell them.

  • Fear Propaganda

    If our government increases surveillance, then people will start communicating using Code. It’s not difficult to communicate using encrypted messages. Those using Code to communicate will laugh at the NSA. Therefore the NSA will only be analyzing the uncoded communications of ordinary citizens. Information is power (big data). This is about power and control, not national defense. Wake Up!

    • digitalmatt

      THe only problem with that is the NSA, MI5 and MI6 could likely run circles around any code the average citizen would come up with. And it wouldn’t take much of a stretch for a judge to decide that code is tantamount to encryption. We just need to get people like Cameron out of office. Also, spread encryption to as many services as possible to keep it entrenched.

      • q0paz

        if I open a socket and send a stream of bytes to the receiver at another ip address, the meaning of those bytes can only be interpreted by the receiving app which casts them back to the correct objects (or whatever) within its app domain. The isp can’t even tell if its encrypted or not because it’s just bytes being transported by ip… Cameron is an idiot. But so is everyone else in Parliament/Congress. We are at the point where the legal entity known as the state is beginning to collapse as it turns against those whose support it needs in order to sustain itself. Oh, and computer science is the new literacy. The illiterate will not prosper…

        • digitalmatt

          Pretty much. The understanding and operation of technology is the new literacy. Unfortunately there is an attempt to paint intellectuals as elitists that hate traditional values and morals while having no true understanding of the real world. Unfortunately, lot of people are falling for it.

  • Fear Propaganda

    David Cameron Is Worse Than Terrorism

  • Fear Propaganda

    Music Video about Surveillance and the Patriot Act! Enjoy!

  • Fear Propaganda


  • RJF

    “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Ben Franklin

  • RJF

    ”If we restrict liberty to attain security we will lose them both.” Ben Franklin