It isn’t just about banning WhatsApp, a new UK bill could challenge user privacy

It isn’t just about banning WhatsApp, a new UK bill could challenge user privacy

It isn’t just about banning WhatsApp, a new UK bill could challenge user privacy

If you run a Google search for the term “WhatsApp ban”, you will find a trail of queries about people asking why they’v been banned on WhatsApp and how they can be unbanned. But what if WhatsApp is banned altogether leaving users with no access to arguably the most popular messaging service. Yes, the newest reports have been pointing at something similar, but that is least of our worries right now.

So, news has it that WhatsApp could soon be banned in the UK, owing to the strict laws on social media and online messaging services. according to a new legislation to be passed by Prime Minister David Cameron people won’t be allowed to send any encrypted messages. This move is to tackle the recent terrorist attacks and the recent shooting of 27 Britons in Tunisia has now accelerated the process.

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While the move is understandable, but it can do more harm than good. With the new legislation, service providers, companies like Google, Facebook and Apple, will have to record the history of every user. This means all your Google searches, conversations etc. will be accessible to the government and police at any given time. Currently, British police have to make a request in order to access a user’s texts, calls and other Internet usage if required.

The extent of power that will be bestowed upon the Investigatory Powers Bill is still unclear. However, whatever little we know seem to be detrimental to user privacy. Not many of us want someone snooping over our private messages and content. This decision has already left several Britons fuming. Several have taken to Twitter to vent out anger and frustration.

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According to Statistica, active WhatsApp user base in the UK in the fourth quarter of 2014 was 34 percent of its mobile web users. “Since Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp, the app has experienced significant growth. From the fourth quarter 2013 to the first quarter 2014, the growth of WhatsApp usage worldwide was measured by generation. In the measured time frame, WhatsApp usage by Baby Boomers worldwide grew by a significant 60 percent. In comparison, growth by Millennial users grew by 30 percent and Generation X users by 34 percent. These statistics reveal the broad appeal of the messaging app across the generations,” states the Statistica survey.

Although this response by the UK Government has surprised many, it isn’t entirely new. In August 2011, the UK was a victim to rioting and soon the government began a crackdown on BlackBerry Messenger. In the day and age of free speech and privacy gaining momentum, one can’t help but wonder whether these are intended as a safety mechanism or a means to halt popular movements. In the true sense, it’s a case of the shooting the messenger!

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