I can be accused of being a little bit out of the loop when it comes to news stories, particularly if they aren’t on the BBC News website. So when my boyfriend mentioned to me over the weekend that Whatsapp could be banned I was more than a little surprised.
He told me about how David Cameron was keen to push through legislation that would prohibit use of apps which which encrypt messages. His reasoning is that we wouldn’t want people to be able to send messages to each other that we wouldn’t be able to read.
Would we? I’m not so sure. I understand that it would make life much harder for terrorists to co-ordinate themselves if these services were removed but I think we are missing the point here. You could remark that there has been an increased number of stabbings on the streets of our cities but the solution is not to ban knives because that is not the problem, society is the problem. The majority of people just want to chop up their veggies, why should that be taken away from them?
Also, just because you’ve banned something it doesn’t mean it still doesn’t happen. Many terrorists are part of a larger organisation who are highly organised. No Whatsapp? No problem, we’ll make our own encrypted messaging service and use that instead. Or we will meet in person. Or we will think of something else. Because people always do.
We may need to come to terms with the fact that terrorism is a problem we may never be able to fully solve. Governments can take action to combat threat but it can never be totally eliminated, and to start limiting free conversation with each other we are starting to stray in the realm of the oppressed.