Gadgets

Could you survive without Whatsapp?

The government’s new anti-terrorism legislation,  dubbed the ‘Snooper’s Charter’, is threatening the existence of WhatsApp, iMessage and Snapchat. ITV news editor, Rohit Kachroo, presents the five things you need to know  

It’s not really called the ‘Snooper’s Charter’
“Nicknamed that by critics, it’s the new communications and counter-terrorism legislation the government wants to introduce over the coming months. If passed, any app or platform that uses end-to-end encryption – to ensure privacy of data – will be forced to hand over all those messages.”

This is about security (says David Cameron)
“This discussion has greatly changed in the past few months, given the revelations about the two Jihadist terrorists who killed Lee Rigby last year [they used online platforms to communicate]. We know for a fact some of these platforms have been used by many of the British Jihadists travelling to Syria and Iraq. If the crime-fighting agencies and security services had greater access, there is a suggestion that perhaps more could be done to prevent what is happening. That’s the government’s argument: 'We’re not trying to spy on you; we’re doing it to keep you safe'.”

There’s a very real possibility Whatsapp will be no more
“We can’t say for sure, but looking at what the government wants to achieve, it’s a distinct possibility. WhatsApp makes a great play of the fact that its messages can’t be hacked, are purely private, and can’t be intercepted by agencies. [If the legislation is passed] they’ll simply have to give in and alter their offering, or refuse – meaning apps such as WhatsApp and several others might have to close down in the UK.”

The debate falls two ways
“On one side you have the civil liberties argument: our communication should be free and protected from spy agencies. On the other hand, you have the national security argument, which says the threat from terrorist groups, lone wolves and people who have been radicalised into extremism online is very real. What’s changed now is you’ve got a government that is unrestricted by having to please its coalition partners and is absolutely clear about where it sits: there is no real threat to civil liberties.”

But don’t worry, it’s a little way off yet…
“If it becomes law, it probably wouldn’t be until early next year. And there’s a great deal of debate and discussions to be had before then. The reality? Something would replace it. It will just look, and be called something, slightly different. The internet moves far faster than the government’s abilities to track it.”