The bill, introduced by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is an attempt to force internet companies to remove illegal content…reports Asian Lite News
WhatsApp’s head, Will Cathcart, has penned an open letter against the controversial Online Safety Bill. In the letter, Mr Cathcart has addressed the risks that the Online Safety Bill poses to everyone’s privacy and safety.
In the letter, he urged the government to protect privacy rights and it highlighted the importance of end-to-end encryption as a robust defence against online threats and calls.
“As end-to-end-encrypted communication services, we urge the UK Government to address the risks that the Online Safety Bill poses to everyone’s privacy and safety. It is not too late to ensure that the Bill aligns with the Government’s stated intention to protect end-to-end encryption and respect the human right to privacy,” the text read.
He emphasized, “End-to-end encryption is one of the strongest possible defenses against these threats, and as vital institutions become ever more dependent on internet technologies to conduct core operations, the stakes have never been higher.”
“As currently drafted, the Bill could break end-to-end encryption,opening the door to routine, general and indiscriminate surveillance of personal messages of friends, family members, employees, executives, journalists, human rights activists and even politicians themselves, which would fundamentally undermine everyone’s ability to communicate securely.
The Bill provides no explicit protection for encryption, and if implemented as written, could empower OFCOM to try to force the proactive scanning of private messages on end-to-end encrypted communication services – nullifying the purpose of end-to-end encryption as a result and compromising the privacy of all users,” the letter read.
The bill, introduced by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is an attempt to force internet companies to remove illegal content such as child sexual abuse or terrorism. However, critics including Meta have said scanning for such content would be incompatible with the end-to-end encryption that is common protection offered by messenger apps.
According to Bloomberg, the bill doesn’t explicitly describe a blocking mechanism but calls for fines of as much as 10% of annual global revenue if companies don’t comply. It also could lead to criminal charges against executives if they don’t provide the regulator Ofcom details on how they run their services upon request.
WhatsApp, Session, Signal, Element, Threema, Viber and Wire have all signed a letter asking the government to “urgently rethink” the proposed law, according to BBC.
Last month, Cathcart told reporters that the Online Safety Bill before Parliament could effectively make the service’s privacy features illegal, according to Bloomberg.
Last month, Signal Foundation’s President Meredith Whittaker told the BBC her messaging service would leave the UK if the Online Safety Bill forced it to weaken its privacy protections.