If you’ve been on Facebook today, you may have noticed a bunch of articles popping up about the infamous Investigatory Powers Bill proposed by the Conservative Government in the UK. Simply put, it’s a bill meant to take away a big chunk of our freedom of speech, privacy and take the whole country back to the Stone Age.
Let me start from the top. Back in January, France suffered a terrorist attack on one of its most famous magazines, Charlie Hebdo. More than 10 people died, amongst them world-famous cartoonists known for their satirical drawings. After the attack, David Cameron (the UK’s Prime Minister, not even the French President) got all worked up and said he didn’t want terrorists to communicate amongst themselves without the government being able to see what they’re on about.
Ok, fair point. So what does he plan on doing? Simple: remove encryption from the Internet in the UK. Errr…. hold on, I thought encryption was what allowed me to stay safe on the Internet… Yeah. Bingo. David Cameron plans on taking away the one thing that actually keeps your stuff private. And not just your messages, which to be fair, are probably not worth reading.
No the thing is, and what the government doesn’t seem to be grasping right now, is that encryption is what protects us from all kinds of cyber-attacks. Because things are encrypted on the Internet, hackers have difficulty (because I’d never say they can’t) accessing information like your bank details, your passwords, your private emails, your Amazon wishlist, your Ebay account… Name it, it’s most likely encrypted.
For a while, the Internet mostly seemed concerned with the fact that a ban like that would ban our favourite apps like Whatsapp, Snapchat, Facebook Chat etc. But actually, it’s much worse. If the bill were to happen, it would mean losing a lot of things we now take for granted (and I’m sure the MPs at Westminster do as well) like online banking, online shopping, online messaging, online everything basically. And products would have to be manufactured specifically for the UK, which would put a downer on a lot of companies and probably create a thriving black market for things available outside of the UK.
On top of that, countless companies would decide to leave the UK and take their business elsewhere, in a country that won’t put their work at risk. Do you honestly think banks in the UK will be happy if you force people to go back into their branches to transfer money? Because they just updated everything to make it all easier to do on your phone. Or what about online shopping? If I can’t pay securely, how likely am I to buy on ASOS or Amazon, knowing that anyone could steal my details and empty my account?
So yeah, think about it this way: in FRANCE, people were killed in a terrorist attack. The FRENCH are doing their utmost possible to track down suspects and fight terrorists inside and outside their borders. They’re not thinking of banning anything. In the UK, the GOVERNMENT has decided that the best way to fight the bad few is to put at risk the good many? How does that even work????
I certainly hope someone inside the Tory party will be able to realise that what they’re proposing to do would pretty much ruin everything they’ve worked for these past few years, and as well as antagonising a whole country, it would seriously put a lot of things at risk (probably including their nuclear launch codes or something-remember War Games?).
“Like so many other aspects of our society, the benefits of encryption are general and can be enjoyed by both the good guys and the bad guys. Automobiles benefit both long-distance travellers and bank robbers. Telephones benefit both distant relatives and kidnappers. Late-night all-you-can-eat buffets benefit both hungry students and terrorists plotting their next moves.”