British PM Pledges to Ban Encrypted Personal Communications if Reelected

February 6, 2015 - 2 minutes read


With a reelection campaign on the horizon, United Kingdom’s Prime Minister David Cameron has gone on record as saying that he will introduce a ban on encrypted personal communications if he is returned to office. Cameron also said he plans to give the U.K.’s security agencies the authorization to intercept communications, with the blessing of the country’s Home Secretary.

While Cameron’s hardline stance was applauded in some corners as an effective and decisive safety measure, it also met with some harsh criticism. Opponents claim that Cameron’s proposal would effectively outlaw private communications in the U.K., with critics also pointing out that popular and largely innocuous apps like SnapChat and WhatsApp would be targeted by the proposed ban. In some quarters, Cameron’s proposal was slammed as being “boneheaded” and “shortsighted.”

Cameron’s surveillance bid comes at a time when intelligence officials are pushing for tighter and more effective government controls over communications. While Cameron’s proposal was ostensibly forwarded to help fight terrorism, it could also be applied to the general population, making for a widespread and invasive surveillance state.

If such a law was passed in the U.K., it could destabilize the country’s mobile app development industry. Onlookers note that mainstream apps that use encryption technology, such as WhatsApp and SnapChat, would effectively be forced underground, perhaps onto the black market. This would result in major revenue losses, and could trigger major changes and severe limitations in the way Britons use their smartphones.

Atlanta iPhone app development professionals and software developers around the country are working at a time when such surveillance measures could trigger major changes. While the United States has no current plans to roll out similar legislation, and while many believe it’s unlikely that Cameron’s proposal would ever become law, there is little doubt that governments are very interested in collecting smartphone data and monitoring citizens.

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