Growing use of VoIP requires additional anti-terrorism measures

Last year in Karachi, the largest city of Pakistan and 2nd largest city in the world by population, the local government banned instant messaging and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) applications such as Skype, Viber, and other communication networks including Tango and WhatsApp, for almost three months due to security reasons. VoIP messaging apps provide convenience and privacy but when it comes to terrorism, it becomes a constant threat for law enforcement agencies to track and intercept any illegal activity.

Law enforcement agencies and Police mostly use mobile interception to track terrorism threats. It requires mobile communication companies to provide information such as incoming and outgoing call records and time of calls for any suspicious number. VoIP messaging apps such as Skype, Viber, and WhatsApp have quickly become attractive alternatives to more secure mobile communication to discuss illegal activity. Many of these apps have servers in the USA and Europe so requiring any data to trace a criminal or illegal activity requires is very time-consuming. Because mostly, this process requires compliance to access information between users over the app that is a major obstacle to counter illegal and criminal activities.

Terrorism is not a local issue. It's a global issue that needs to be addressed globally. Similarly, VoIP messaging apps are also used throughout the world. Some developing countries may be using some additional measures to track any security threat through these VoIP applications. But not every country has the same level of expertise and financial resources to figure out solutions to counter terrorist threats.

The example of Karachi controlling security threats through banning VoIP applications is not a solution. This measure proved to be unsuccessful afterward because criminals still found their ways to communicate and criminal and terror activities did not decline. This measure also placed an unfair restriction on the city's civilians.

As VoIP communication continues to grow in the years to come, it can be concluded that more terrorists will adopt VoIP communication if no adequate security measures are taken in near future. Collective measures at the global level need to address to counter terrorism through using VoIP communication so that the world can figure out a solution to stop terrorism without sacrificing the benefits of an exciting communication technology that is VoIP.