It was bound to happen eventually, but it may surprise you to know that one of the first (non-communist) leaders to call for a ban on encrypted messaging is UK Prime Minister David Cameron. Speaking out in favour of a ban on apps that provide this service, Cameron feels strongly that the likes of WhatsApp, Snapchat, or Apple’s iMessage serve as a potential threat to national security.
Justifying his position, Ars Technica quoted Cameron saying:
“Are we going to allow a means of communications which it simply isn’t possible to read?” Cameron said Monday while campaigning, in reference to apps such as WhatsApp, Snapchat, and other encrypted services. “My answer to that question is: ‘No, we must not.'”
Protecting our privacy is a controversial subject no matter the country in which you happen to reside, but you can bet that if Cameron is successful it will set a potentially dangerous world-wide precedent. While restrictions prohibiting the use of encrypted messaging services could be inconvenient for would-be bad guys, I’m not sure I think it will ultimately prevent much of anything (because I tend to believe that if you build a better mousetrap, you will just cultivate smarter mice).
When we look to the government for protection, is it also then reasonable to allow them any and all tools they require to deliver it? If Cameron gets his way (and others like him), would you feel more or less safe? While there may be more questions than answers right now, it should give you cause to consider how you are using your mobile devices –and not do anything with them that you wouldn’t want to be made public.