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British Prime Minister David Cameron has stated his belief that encrypted messaging apps must have backdoor access to government agencies, or risk being banned in light of the Charlie Hebdo attacks, according to Ars Technica.
“Are we going to allow a means of communications which it simply isn’t possible to read,” The Guardian quotes Mr Cameron as saying in a speech in Nottingham, before answering, “My answer to that question is: no, we must not. The first duty of any government is to keep our country safe. The attacks in Paris demonstrated the scale of the threat that we face and the need to have robust powers through our intelligence and security agencies in order to keep our people safe.”
The Independent reports that this could include the likes of Whatsapp, Snapchat, iMessage, Facetime and other messaging apps. However, the plan would be dependent on the Conservative party being re-elected with a majority in May, and is unlikely to be enacted before them – especially with their junior coalition partners The Liberal Democrats seemingly against further legislation. The Prime Minister seemed to acknowledge this, saying “If I am Prime Minister, I will make sure we do not allow terrorists safe space to communicate with each other.”
Simon Hughes, the Liberal Democrat security minister said these extra proposed steps were unnecessary, arguing that the government should defend privacy and civil liberties: “Hold on to our liberties; don’t give them up in defense of the nation, specifically at a time where liberty is under attack. That’s the wrong message to send.”
“[The security services] come to government with propositions on a regular basis, we’re responding again. The Liberal Democrats have no reason to believe that more powers are further needed.
“We’ll keep an open mind … The important thing is not to think that giving the authorities more power is necessarily the right thing to do. It may be about using the powers we have better, about having more people, making sure the borders are policed more correctly.”
Frederic Legrand – COMEO / Shutterstock.com
Author Alan Martin, ESET