It's no secret that terrorist groups know how to use technology. A March headline from The New York Times points toward the Islamic State's adeptness at Twitter, and 16 people were arrested in Belgium last month after incriminating messages were sent through WhatsApp. Al Qaeda, al-Shabab and the Taliban all have an active web presence, a troubling notion when you take into account the secretive nature of encrypted social networks like iMessage and Snapchat.
But under a plan being pushed to combat communication via the "dark places" on the Internet, British Prime Minister David Cameron soon hopes to have access to all means of electronic communication by anyone in the country. The proposed legislation -- referred to as the Investigatory Powers Bill and nicknamed the "Snooper's Charter" -- would ban encrypted apps like Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, iMessage and WhatsApp unless the material sent via the services were accessible by the government.
The bill, first announced in 2012 before it was tabled due to widespread criticism, would mandate that Internet service providers keep records of all online browsing, social media use, email and voice correspondence, and cell phone messaging services. The records would be stored for 12 months, according to Forbes.
British Home Secretary Theresa May plans to push the bill forward quickly, and hopes to have it in front of the government by the fall. HuffPost UK notes that the official deadline is near the end of 2016, but the legislation has been making headlines for the past few months, with Cameron pledging new laws earlier this year. Queen Elizabeth II even mentioned heightened monitoring in her address to Parliament in May.
"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?" Cameron asked in January.
"My answer to that question is no we must not. If I am prime minister, I will make sure it is a comprehensive piece of legislation that makes sure we do not allow terrorists safe spaces to communicate with each other."
Many social media networks use end-to-end encryption to protect user privacy, which is a fancy way of saying a message is readable only by the sender and the recipient -- no one in between, including the government.
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