To: The UK Government
Don't ban or weaken WhatsApp!
Commit to not banning WhatsApp, weakening its encryption or inserting back doors into it.
Why is this important?
(To skip the history of this issue please scroll to **)
In 2016 the government passed a bill called the "Investigatory Powers Bill" (now the Investigatory Powers Act). This bill replaced the UK's old RIPA (Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act) from 2000, which referred to the powers the UK police and security services had when it came to collecting, monitoring, intercepting, etc - electronic communications from any UK resident, or person currently in the country.
The bill effectively makes it legal for the government to spy on everyone in the country, at their will, as well as conducting mass surveillance of the entire country (which they have renamed to "Bulk Collection", as this tends to make people less concerned.)
This bill was hugely opposed by those who knew about it, however it wasn't widely known about due to the government precisely timing when they bought it to parliament to coincide with much bigger issues (such as BREXIT).
When this bill officially became law it was referred to in headlines as "The UK now has a surveillance law that is more suited to a dictatorship than a democracy".
Now the Conservative party are trying to sneak through an expansion of this bill.
When the IPAct was bought into power the Conservatives said on numerous occasions said they would not ban or undermine encryption (by implementing backdoors etc)
Theresa May personally said "We believe that encryption is important. It is important that data can be kept safe and secure.
We are not proposing in the bill to make any changes in relation to the issue of encryption and the legal position around that. The current legal position in respect of encryption will be repeated in the legislation of the bill".
However the following has document has made its way into the open (article link on page): https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/05/04/uk_bulk_surveillance_powers_draft/
Technology and apps like WhatsApp and Signal rely on strong encryption to keep our messages private.
Weakening the encryption or inserting backdoors is an enormous risk for the entire UK, as the same encryption that keeps these messages safe, also secures things such as bank transactions, social media login, emails, etc.
Theresa May usually refers to her famous "double lock" system. Meaning these kinds of things must be authorised by both the home secretary (for example) and a judge.
The problem we have seen with this is that these people are not experts in these fields, so rather than question who, how, what, where, when and why they just rubber stamp it.
The USA has a court that their surveillance has to go through. This court has rejected 0.03% of all requests ever made.
Companies like Facebook (who own WhatsApp) have previously shown their dedication to keeping their users privacy. For them to disable encryption for the UK means anybody messaging that person is also vulnerable, which could cause WhatsApp the shut down in the UK.
They may also refuse the request, which could then lead the Government to ban WhatsApp.
Please join with me in getting the government to withdraw these plans, and work with an expert in the field to attempt to come up with an approach that keeps us all secure as well as sparing our privacy.