Prime minister wants to ban encrypted messaging apps

David Cameron has threatened to block WhatsApp and Snapchat under new surveillance plans.

The instant messaging apps are encrypted to protect their users’ information from being read, but could be banned if the PM ramps up terrorist surveillance following last week’s Paris attacks.

These new rules would be expected to come into force if David Cameron wins the next election. They would effectively stop the use of communication methods that cannot be read by the security services, even with a warrant. Cameron has defended his threat, reports, saying fanatics should not be able to talk to each other without security agencies listening in.

“The attacks in Paris once again demonstrated the need to have robust powers through our intelligence and security agencies to keep our people safe,” he said.

“The powers that I believe we need, whether on communications data or on the content of communications, I am very comfortable that those are absolutely right for a modern, liberal democracy. If I am Prime Minister, I will make sure we do not allow terrorists safe space to communicate with each other.”

Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime applications also encrypt their data and could also fall under the “snoopers’ charter”. The more traditional SMS is unlikely to be affected as it doesn’t carry encryption.

Cameron made the connection between encrypted communications tools and letters or phone conversations, both of which can be read by security services in extreme situations and with a warrant from the home secretary, notes

Companies like WhatsApp have remained committed to keeping their services encrypted and unable to be read by authorities.

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