LONDON, Eng. – Britain’s parliament voted on Monday to enact an immediate ban on the emoji – a type of digital image commonly used to express ideas or emotions – after a recent report by Belgian authorities revealed the extremists who carried out multiple attacks in Brussels and Paris used several variations of the popular icon to plan and coordinate their violent acts.
“These digital images pose a grave threat to the United Kingdom,” British Prime Minister David Cameron declared during an address to parliament. Mr. Cameron said Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has already begun the tedious process of gathering data on all British citizens – both at home and abroad – who use emojis as a form of communication.
Prime Minister Cameron said the U.S. National Security Agency has granted GCHQ unfettered access to a comprehensive database of emojis used by Islamic extremists. “At first glance, many of these emojis appear harmless and – at times – even funny,” explained Robert Codsworth, a former cyber security specialist and British intelligence officer. “But when used in conjunction with other emojis, their meaning transforms into something much more sinister.”
Citing a potential national security breach, British officials would not disclose exactly which emojis are most prevalent among Islamic extremists. However, an American intelligence officer speaking on condition of anonymity told BBC News that the Islamic State uses side-by-side peach and eggplant emojis to indicate the use of a suicide vest. Adding a collision emoji to the pair serves as an order to detonate the vest.
Other ‘codes,’ according to the American official, include a halo emoji combined with a skull and crossbones which translates to “death to Christians.” Swapping the halo icon with a Japanese orge emoji changes “Christians” to “Jews.”
Prime Minister Cameron on Monday advised British citizens to immediately cease all forms of communications involving emojis. “It is now the policy of the UK to immediately detain and charge any individual who violates the ban in accordance with the Terrorism Act of 2006,” said Mr. Cameron. The prime minister concluded that British citizens should “learn to express their emotions with words” if they wish to avoid potentially life-altering legal action.