David Cameron To Outlaw Encrypted Communications?

British Prime Minister David Cameron

In news shocking to no one on the planet, British Prime Minister David Cameron said publicly that if reelected he would seek to block messaging applications that rely on encryption to secure users content and communications. Such a ban would make popular applications like WhatsApp, Snapchat, and iMessage illegal in the United Kingdom. The pornography censoring Prime Minister was quoted as saying, “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.” This pledge comes on the heels of the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris.

Personally, I sometimes get annoyed when people outside of the US say what the US should be doing. Different countries have different cultures and not everything that is right for me is right for you. So while I won’t presume to say what should or should not be happening in the UK and throughout Europe to answer these recent attacks. However there are a few things that I think are worth pointing out in the wake of this news.

There has been a boom in secure messaging applications in the last couple of years, especially after the leaks from Edward Snowden that revealed the depth and breadth of spying by the US intelligence agencies. Whether they are legal or not, they exist and they exist for a purpose. To propose outlawing services that protect the end user’s privacy will only serve to make those who are innocent susceptible while those who are guilty will find ways to work around the rules.

Can you shut down every service that exists? No. If you could, would those people who started such services go along quietly? Unlikely. In fact, the mentality of people who are concerned with such abilities would likely lead to mass proliferation of source code and fracturing of a few major services into many small home grown services. Can you stop people from installing an app from another country? China would probably say yes but we all know that is not true. Can you cripple your entire Internet to block certain types of communications? Maye with enough work but then would that stop people from setting up mesh networks?

The point of all that I’m saying is, forget about whether this is right or wrong. You can find arguments on both sides of that fence. The real question that should be asked is does it even make sense to try such regulation. I would answer firmly, only if you want to eavesdrop on the innocent.

  Source: Independent
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