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WhatsApp, Snapchat and iMessage could be banned in the UK: Should you be worried about the Communications Data Bill?

Marie Brewis | July 16, 2015
Following the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris earlier this year we were warned that if the Conservatives won the next election PM David Cameron would ban your favourite instant messaging apps, including WhatsApp, Snapchat and Apple's iMessage.

What the government is now pushing for is for internet services companies to document the activity of their customers and keep those records for 12 months. If services such as WhatsApp are willing to meet these terms, there is actually no need for them to close. It's not a WhatsApp ban so much as a restriction.

WhatsApp ban: Should you be worried?

WhatsApp, iMessage and the like are not about to be banned. And if you've got nothing to hide, you have no reason to be worried. Yes, if the law goes ahead the goverment will be able to see what you send via these services if it has cause to do so, but that won't stop you sending it. And while you might want to die with embarrassment that someone other than the intended recipient has read your message, we bet your message isn't so special that it will stand out among the millions of similar conversations passing under government noses.

Cameron's original remarks were a knee-jerk reaction in response to the Charlie Hebdo Paris shootings, and in reality banning instant messaging services is not a solution.

If terrorists want to collude in private then they will continue to do so, and spying on the normal person on the street won't solve the problem. There's an entire Dark Web out there, which proves just how much of the internet is beyond the government's remit. Then there are VPNs, the ability to send an encrypted attachment with an email and, oh, communication that is not conducted over the internet.

He might have the Conservative party on his side, but Cameron faces a great deal of opposition to his desire to decrypt IM.

Peter Sommer, professor of cybersecurity and digital evidence at de Montford and the Open Universities, told The Guardian: "You can pass laws in Westminster until you're blue in the face, but you can't enforce them."

 

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