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Britons could see the hugely popular cross-platform app BANNED under strict new laws on social media and online messaging services.

Britons could see the hugely popular cross-platform app BANNED under strict new laws on social media and online messaging services.

Prime Minister David Cameron is pressing ahead with new legislation that plans to stop people from sending any form of encrypted messages.

A number of popular messaging services – including WhatsApp, iMessage and Snapchat – currently scramble communications between their users.

If the controversial new legislation is passed in the coming weeks all three services could be outlawed in the United Kingdom.

"In our country, do we want to allow a means of communication between people which we cannot read?" said Prime Minister Cameron earlier this year.

"My answer to that question is: 'No, we must not'."

The news comes weeks after WhatsApp was named one of the worst apps for user privacy.

Private online communications will be opened-up by the Government's "Snooper's Charter" – or the Investigatory Powers Bill, to give the bill its full title – which requires internet service providers, phone companies and technology firms like Google, Apple, Facebook and WhatsApp keep a record of all of your activity.

This troubling database of information, which will include all your Google searches, your Facebook conversations, WhatsApp group messages and SnapChat videos, will be made available to the UK police and Government whenever they require.

Home Secretary Theresa May has warned the Investigatory Powers Bill could be passed this Autumn.

The recent spate of terrorist attacks – including the shooting of 30 Britons on a beach in Tunisia – has prompted the Conservative Government to act fast.

British police currently make a request to access personal metadata – texts, emails, phone calls and internet searches – once every two minutes in the UK, according to data from campign group Big Brother Watch.

"We have always been able, on the authority of the Home Secretary, to sign a warrant and intercept a phone call, a mobile phone call or other media communications," Mr Cameron added.

"But the question we must ask ourselves is whether, as technology develops, we are content to leave a safe space – a new means of communication – for terrorists to communicate with each other."

The full extent of the powers granted by the Investigatory Powers Bill remain unclear.

However, many have slammed the law as a breach of privacy.

Executive director of The Open Rights Group Jim Killock said: "The Government is signalling that it wants to press ahead with increased powers of data collection and retention for the police and GCHQ – spying on everyone, whether suspected of a crime or not.

"This is the return of the 'Snooper's Charter' even as the ability to collect and retain data gets less and less workable."

Liberty – a group who campaign for civil liberties and human rights in the UK – added: "We take no issue with the use of intrusive surveillance powers per se – targeted surveillance can play an important part in preventing and detecting serious crime.

"But the current regime just doesn't provide sufficient safeguards to ensure that such surveillance is conducted lawfully, and in a necessary and proportionate way."

Former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg – who blocked the 'Snoopers' Charter' while he was in power – also joined those speaking out against the Conservatives' bill.

He said: "We have every right to invade the privacy of terrorists and those we think want to do us harm, but we should not equate that with invading the privacy of every single person in the UK. They are not the same thing.

"The so-called Snoopers' Charter is not targeted. It's not proportionate.

"It's not harmless. It would be a new and dramatic shift in the relationship between the state and the individual.

"People who blithely say they are happy for their communications to be open to scrutiny because they have 'nothing to hide' have failed to grasp something fundamental about open democratic societies: We do not make ourselves safer by making ourselves less free."

Source: Express

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