Plans to crack down on encrypted communication could spell the end for services such as Snapchat and Whatsapp in the UK. In what’s been heralded as a massive invasion of privacy David Cameron’s ‘Investigative Power bill’ aims to minimize private online communications. This bill – which is also referred to as the “Snooper charter” – would mean that companies, ranging from technology firms, to internet service providers and phone companies would be required to keep a database that records all users activity. All of the stored data would then be available for both the police and the government to access when required (According to data from the campaign group Big Brother Watch, UK police currently request to access private and personal metadata once every two minutes).
Many are dismayed, and even former Deputy prime Minister has spoken out on the subject “We have every right to invade the privacy of terrorists and those we think want to do us harm, but we should not equate that with invading the privacy of every single person in the UK. They are not the same thing.
“The so called Snooper’s Charter is not targeted. It’s not proportionate.
“It’s not harmless. It would be a new and dramatic shift in the relationship between the state and the individual.
“People who blithely say they are happy for their communications to be open to scrutiny because they have ‘nothing to hide’ have failed to grasp something fundamental about open democratic societies: We do not make ourselves safer by making ourselves less free”
The bill is still yet to be passed, but already people are furious, with over 45,000 express readers voting against it in an Express.co.uk poll and over 55,000 voting against it in dailystar.co.uk reader’s poll.
The Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris earlier this year led to warnings that the Conservatives were determined to pass the bill if they got into power. More recent terrorist attacks, such as the shootings in Tunisia mean that the government is expected to push bill through quickly. With Home Secretary Theresa May warning that the bill could be passed by autumn.
The increased threat from terrorists have people such as the former defense secretary Lord King airing their support for the bill “We could easily see a Paris or a Belgium here and so far, with the exception of the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby, have not been exposed in the same way… I am not a Twitterer. I don’t know about Snapchat or Whatsapp, but the terrorists do.”
What does this mean for messaging services? Whilst the extent of the bill is still currently unknown, popular services such as Whatsapp, Snapchat and iMessage are at massive risk as they all currently scramble users communications. With the new law aiming to ban all forms of message encryption, services that choose not to adhere to the new bill could possibly face a ban in the UK.
Numerous Technology companies have spoke out in disapproval with many – one of the main ones being Google- refusing to completely remove encryption from their services.
“In our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people which we cannot read? …My answer to that question is. ‘No, we must not’.” Argued Prime minister David Cameron.
With so many popular communication services using encryption technologies, the public could be massively affected if the services are banned due to the bill.
Becky Arthurs @Bex18W