David Cameron Threatens Ban on Encryption to Gain Access to Citizen Communications
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.”
Major Apps Would Be Affected by the David Cameron Ban
If 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.