During the Queen's Speech, the Government unveiled plans for a new version of the controversial 'Snoopers Charter' bill which would potentially allow the Government to ban instant messaging services such as WhatsApp, iMessage and Facebook Messenger.
Since that point attention to the 'Snoopers Charter' has increased after a number of reports started appearing that Home Secretary Theresa May was planning to have the bill in place before the end of the year.
The Investigatory Powers Bill would -- admittedly with a number of strict procedures in place -- allow security services such as GCHQ and MI5 to access instant messages sent between two people in this country.
The problem is that almost all the major apps (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, iMessage and Snapchat) all use encrypted end-to-end communications which means that Governments and indeed the technology companies can't see what's being sent.
Speaking in the aftermath of the Paris Shootings, Prime Minister David Cameron said: "In our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people which even in extremes, with a signed warrant from the Home Secretary personally that we cannot read,"
- 6 Ways To Communicate When David Cameron's Snooper's Charter Has Banned All Technology
- Should You Be Worried About The Snoopers' Charter? Use Our Handy Flowchart To Find Out
- 'Snoopers' Charter' Campaigners Claim Victory After Surveillance Report Says Existing Powers Are Enough
- Jimmy Wales: Wikipedia Will Encrypt UK Users' Web History If 'Snooper's Charter' Passed
- BLOG - Reviving the Snooper's Charter Would Be Disproportionate and Misguided
This would essentially allow the Government to potentially ban services that refuse to remove encryption, and by default then ban apps like WhatsApp, iMessage and Facebook Messenger.
While the story itself has been ongoing, the news that the bill could be enforced before the end of the year has resulted in a strong public backlash on Twitter and Facebook:
Aaaaahhh, scaremongering. My favourite type of bullsh*t.
George Orwell, thou should'st be living at this hour.
"I wonder if the people who defend this sort of concept would be as happy if they brought in a law, that basically told postal workers to photocopy every bit of post that go through sorting offices, and that BT, Talk Talk, Virgin etc had to record every phone call, which effectively laws like this are doing for the online community."
"Civil liberties being traded of for national security - and the sheep will accept it. "If we can't spy on your communications, we will just ban you from communicating"
"This is not a measure to counter terrorism . It is another measure to eradicate free speech, communal communication and democracy."
The prospect of things like Snapchat and Whatsapp being banned as the government cannot read peoples conversations is ridiculous— Alex (@AlexCatt1497) July 10, 2015
The Snoopers Charter is just a complete load of bollocks, isn't it? Needs to be stopped. http://t.co/NUsbe40J6d— Andy (@welshandy) July 10, 2015
UK trying to ban whatsapp and snapchat. Wtf 😩— Ekansh (@ekansh96) July 10, 2015
Once we've got rid of whatsapp, we need to successfully tackle terrorism through the banning of the encryption method "envelope and stamp".— John GrinandRoar (@GrinAndRoar) July 10, 2015
Others are less fussed, or indeed think that the proposal is so extreme that it simply won't come to pass:
How are they going to ban whatsapp?— Rahiii ॐ (@RahiHPatel) July 10, 2015
@David_Cameron Good luck trying to ban WhatsApp & iMessage, I'm sure Apple & Facebook will allow it.— Caolan Owens (@caolanjowens) July 10, 2015
Suggest a correction
To be honest I'm not that bothered about WhatsApp being banned, no more blue ticks I can return to cowardly ignoring people— . (@clairefrancesx) July 10, 2015