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WhatsApp calls on UK government to change bill that would break end-to-end encryption

21. 04. 2023 Friday / By: Robert Denes / Generic / Exact time: BST / Print this page

The UK government is currently considering new legislation that would open the door to forcing tech companies to break end-to-end encryption on private messaging services. The law could empower unelected officials to undermine the privacy of billions of people around the world.

We believe that no company, government, or individual should be empowered to read your private messages, and we continue to protect encryption technology. We're proud to stand with other tech companies in our industry who are pushing back against flawed parts of this law that are making things less secure in the UK and around the world.

WhatsApp has taken a last-ditch push to get the UK government to change its online safety bill, explaining in an open letter that the proposed bill would effectively ban the encryption of messages and could force Meta to limit its offering in the region.

WhatsApp Official Statement: Businesses, individuals and governments around the world face constant threats from online scams, fraud and data theft. Malicious actors and hostile states routinely challenge the security of our critical infrastructure. End-to-end encryption is one of the strongest defenses against these threats, and as critical institutions increasingly depend on Internet technologies to perform essential operations, the stakes have never been higher.

As currently drafted, the bill could break end-to-end encryption, opening the door to routine, blanket and indiscriminate surveillance of personal messages from friends, family members, employees, executives, journalists, human rights activists and even politicians themselves. they fundamentally undermine everyone's ability to communicate securely.

The Bill provides no express protection for encryption and, if implemented as written, could empower OFCOM to try to force proactive scrutiny of private messages on end-to-end encrypted communications services – defeating the purpose of end-to-end encryption. results and compromises the privacy of all users.

In short, the bill poses an unprecedented threat to the privacy, safety and security of all UK citizens and the people they communicate with around the world, while emboldening hostile governments that might seek to develop copycat laws.

Proponents say they value the importance of encryption and privacy, but also say it's possible to monitor everyone's messages without undermining end-to-end encryption. The truth is that it is not possible.

We're not the only ones divided about the UK bill. The United Nations has warned that the UK government's efforts to impose backdoor requirements "represent a paradigm shift that raises a number of serious issues with potentially serious consequences".

Even the UK government itself acknowledged the privacy risks posed by the text of the bill, but said it did not "intend" the bill to be interpreted that way.

Global providers of end-to-end encrypted products and services cannot weaken the security of their products and services to comply with individual governments. There is no such thing as a "British Internet" or a UK version of end-to-end encryption.

The UK government urgently needs to rethink the bill, revise it to encourage companies to offer their residents more privacy and security, not less. Weakening encryption, undermining privacy and introducing mass surveillance of people's private communications is not the way to go.

End-to-end encryption means that the communication between user A and user B is completely encrypted, meaning that no one, not even the service provider itself, has the opportunity to break into or observe this communication. It also provides an extremely high level of protection against malware, hackers and other entities looking for your personal data and various information.

The Online Safety Bill aims to provide additional protection for younger online users by introducing stricter requirements and penalties for the use of online platforms by minors. Unfortunately, the UK government no longer likes its citizens (and companies) to enjoy privacy and freedom, having passed a bill requiring such services to pull end-to-end encryption.

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