I never thought I would say this, but fair play to Facebook and WhatsApp for standing firm against the UK government regarding not allowing their encryption to be broken, not for anyone or anything. In brief;
WhatsApp has announced that it would rather leave the UK than comply with the proposed Online Safety Bill, which requires companies to scan private messages for illegal content. The Bill also demands that companies use “accredited technology” to carry out these scans. However, as end-to-end encrypted messages cannot be scanned, this requirement would mean breaking WhatsApp’s encryption, which the company will not do.
Will Cathcart, head of WhatsApp at parent company Meta, said that it would be an “odd choice” to weaken the product’s security for the 2% of global users in the UK when the vast majority of users worldwide demand protection. If WhatsApp were to break end-to-end encryption to scan messages, it would introduce vulnerabilities that attackers and hostile states could exploit, leading to state-mandated surveillance on a mass scale.
WhatsApp’s refusal to comply with the legislation would subject it to fines of up to 4% of Meta’s annual turnover. However, the company would rather withdraw from the UK market than compromise on security. Signal, another private messaging app, has also threatened to leave the UK if the Bill is passed. The Online Safety Bill will return to Parliament this summer.
It is commendable that Meta and WhatsApp have refused to compromise their encryption despite pressure from the UK government. They have shown a commitment to protecting the privacy and security of their users, which is essential in today’s digital age.
I will keep you posted.
All the best,
Incognito Privacy Care Team.