UK Could Ban WhatsApp, iMessage, Facebook and Snapchat Over Privacy Concerns

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Just when you think personal privacy couldn’t become any less attainable, the UK government is now aiming to ban WhatsApp, iMessage, Facebook messenger, SnapChat and all encrypted messaging apps under new laws making its way through Parliament.

The world’s most popular messaging applications including WhatsApp, iMessage, SnapChat and Facebook messenger could all potentially be at risk and ban in the United Kingdom under the controversial new law, ‘Snooper’s Charter‘.

The proposed legislation, called the Investigatory Powers Bill and nicknamed the Snooper’s Charter, aims to ban encrypted chat applications such as those listed above. The proposed law has no boundaries on who or what it could affect, allowing the UK government to effectively eradicate messaging apps that refuse to switch off end-to-end encryption from their services. This type of encryption means the end users hold the encryption key, while the company or third-parties have no way of snooping on your chat.

In light of the Charlie Hebdo shootings that occurred earlier this year, British Prime Minister David Cameron reveled his plans to ban encrypted messaging apps unless they comply with the government’s new surveillance compliance checklist. This means you are not allowed to have an instant messaging conversation unless the government is able to read it.

“In our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people which even in extremes, with a signed warrant from the Home Secretary personally, that we cannot read?” Cameron asked 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 terrorists safe spaces to communicate with each other.”

Cameron implies that terrorists and criminals are the main users of these services, which is wildly false, yet it’s widely known that terrorists groups know how to use technology and have been aware of the governments longing to spy on them. Meaning Cameron’s usual script touting a “terrorism” scare is merely a scare tactic to help the bill fly through Parliament.

Wait… we’re not done yet. If the Snooper’s Charter goes into full effect, it will require Internet service providers, mobile phone companies and technology firms, such as Apple, Google, and Facebook to keep a permanent record of all your online activities. This includes any and all Google searches, Facebook chats, Whatsapp conversations, and Snapchat videos. Snooper’s Charter is essentially a full log of your online activities, everything you watch, say, and do online will be under surveillance and recorded.

British Home Secretary Theresa May plans to push the bill forward, rather quickly, as the official deadline is near the end of 2016. If Snooper’s Charter makes its way past court, attaining any form of privacy is going to be an uphill struggle.

Sources:
HuffingtonPost UK
[Photo via Jan Persiel/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)]

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Brandon Stosh is the founder and CEO of www.freedomhacker.net. Stosh is a cyber security researcher and professional consultant who strives to provide reliable news on cyber-security based topics.

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