You can not realistically ban encryption. Encryption is used to protect communication through electronic devices; it protects your bank information and online accounts. This is cryptography, it is used in hundreds of systems. We have politicians speaking about banning these technologies. How can this be? British Prime minister David Cameron has raised a red flag on encrypted messaging apps like WhatsApp, iMessage, and Snapchat. He has called for the banning of these apps; implying that they are being used by criminal organizations and terrorists to communicate.
“In our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people which we cannot read?”, rhetorically said by the Prime Minister
With this sort of logic I am going to go as far as to say; we should leave our houses and cars unlocked; and valuables left unguarded in public spaces because surely it would be much simpler to catch thieves and put them in prison.
Security is not just for what the social norm calls the “good guys”. It is a two way street. I would rather have peace of mind that my data is being protected so well; to the point that Government officials can not tap into it. Think about the various ways this could go wrong. Imagine corrupt politicians with access to data or just consider that lightening up on security measures, will make it easier for the average hacker to gain access.
Computer scientists have spoken out on the futility of weakening encryption; so only Government officials have access.This same weaknesses can be exploited by malicious hackers. This view is held by many computer experts actively in the field.
A few months back a ban was called on WhatsApp in the UK; it has recently been dropped because of mass criticism. But this can of worms has not been closed just yet. This has just pushed the issue to other parts of the world; where they can theoretically gain some traction and spread. India has a ban on certain types of encryption. WhatsApp uses end to end encryption; which is illegal in India. WhatsApp uses a 256bit encryption which is only known by the sender and the receiver. India only allows 40bit encryption if you want to have permission you need to apply through the Government. The Indian Government has asked for the keys to be able to gain access; but WhatsApp creators have said they do not have them. So all user using the latest version of WhatsApp in India are technically breaking the law. No actions have been decided on what to do with the company; they are not based in India making things complicated. Recently Brazilian authorities have been reported to have been reported to be collecting WhatsApp data with the hopes of fighting drug tracking. WhatsApp has been cooperating with law enforcement; but have gone on to say that they cannot provide the full extent of what they want. We are just uncovering what’s on the surface; do some research on what your local Government and even internet service providers are doing; and what data they are doing with this data.