UK PM threatens to ban WhatsApp and Snapchat over security concerns

13 Jan 2015

Pictured: UK Prime Minister David Cameron

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has threatened to ban encrypted messaging services, such as WhatsApp and Snapchat, if British intelligence services are unable to monitor them.

The move comes after leaders of EU Nations called on ISPs to provide a limited form of censorship to report incitement of hatred following the terrorist attacks in Paris last week that saw 20 people killed, including three terrorists.

Cameron said that if elected in the next UK general elections he would ban encrypted online communications tools that could be used by terrorists unless intelligence agencies like GCHQ and MI5 were not given increased access.

It is understood that Cameron wants to bring back the Communications Data Bill, otherwise known as the Snoopers Charter, which was shelved because it was not supported by the Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives’ current partners in government.

The proposed legislation would also oblige telecoms operators and ISPs to store more data on people’s online activities, including their social networking messages.

Cameron’s threat goes beyond popular apps like Snapchat and WhatsApp which are used mainly by teens and could affect other communications platform protected by encryption, including Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime technologies.

Cameron said in a speech on Monday: “Are we going to allow a means of communications which it simply isn’t possible to read?”

His comments are unlikely to cut the mustard with privacy advocates in the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations about NSA and GCHQ snooping on internet and mobile communications in Europe and the US.

David Cameron image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years