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Cameron banning encrypted messaging apps

David Cameron has taken a strong line on terrorists and criminals using encrypted chat applications such as Whatsapp and Snapchat by stating that if he is elected, he will ban all applications that enable encrypted communications (see below).

The UK Prime Minister, standing for re-election, stated that encrypted communications are enabling terrorism and preventing identification of criminals early on. As part of his policy, Cameron has announced that he will ban the use of these types of applications and enable security services further permissions to monitor communications. Cameron has stated that the first duty of the Government is to keep the country and its citizens safe.

The announcement has received a mass amount of criticism, with a number of people suggesting the Prime Minister does not understand how a ban like this might be implemented in reality. One expert claimed the proposal was “boneheaded” and that, by doing this, the Prime Minister was essentially trying to ban the use of cryptography to conceal messages, a practice that has been used for centuries.

Others have gone on to state that a ban such as this will never prevent communications from being hidden and that new applications can be written fairly easily to conceal such messages. In one experts opinion, the ban will simply alienate the Prime Minister from the public that use these applications for genuine reasons – which is 99.99% of the population.

The issue is how can we prevent these communications between terrorists and those they are looking to recruit. From the Govenrments perspective it is simply – stop the communications and stop the uptake of impressionable future terrorists. But it is not that simple. As we have learnt time and time again, if one means of communication is cut then others will be created. And just because that form of communication is “illegal” does not mean that terrorists will stop using it. And finally, and most importantly, in practice – how would the Government track, monitor and prevent people from using these apps?

In our opinion, the effort involved in banning these types of apps will cost more and take more time than tracking down and stopping the terrorists in the first place..

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