WhatsApp, Signal and many other encrypted messaging services have signed an open letter opposing the Online Safety Act.
platform says The government’s flagship internet security legislation End-to-end encryption can be broken, ensuring that no one other than the sender and intended recipient of the message can read it.
signal and whatsappbelong Yuanwarned before They would rather see UK users stop using their service than risk compromising their privacy.
The government has insisted it will not outlaw end-to-end encryption, insisting it will preserve privacy while keeping children safe online, with charities including the NSPCC backing it.
But Element, a British messaging platform used by agencies including the MoD, US Marine Corps and Ukraine’s Armed Forces, called the bill “very dangerous” and would weaken national security.
Matthew Hodgson, CEO of Element, said: “The UK wants to have special access to end-to-end encrypted systems.
“Bad guys don’t play by the rules. Rogue nation-states, terrorists and criminals will use every resource at their disposal to target this gateway.”
Who signed the open letter?
- Element CEO Matthew Hodgson
- Alex Linton, OPTF/Session Director
- Signal President Meredith Whittaker
- Threema CEO Martin Blatter
- Viber CEO Ofir Eyal
- Will Cathcart, Head of WhatsApp at Meta
- Wire co-founder Alan Duric
Mr Hodgson added: “It is appalling to see the UK, a country synonymous with democracy and freedom, introduce routine mass surveillance and fundamentally undermine encryption.
“Bad actors will simply continue to use existing unregulated apps — while the privacy of good actors using compliant apps will be compromised.”
Why the Online Safety Act is so controversial
‘No silver bullet’ to tackle online abuse
Who Supports the Online Safety Act?
Despite privacy concerns, the long-delayed bill has the backing of child safety campaigners, with the NSPCC describing private messaging as “the front line for online child sexual abuse”.
Surveys show it’s also supported large number of british adults.
The wide-ranging legislation aims to regulate internet content to keep people safe and will give media watchdog Ofcom the power to require platforms to identify and remove child abuse content.
Failure to comply could expose the company to hefty fines.
what happened next
The letter from the messaging platform was released ahead of the final reading of the bill in the House of Lords on Wednesday.
It has been almost two years since it was first published in draft form and began its long journey to Parliament.
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The bill was delayed several times due to concerns from tech companies, who feared the bill would be too far-reaching Not clear what they will be asked to reviewit makes it returned to parliament at the end of last year And there is cross-party support.
Still, some members of Congress said it could affect free speech.
Conservative backbencher David Davies proposed an amendment to the bill to remove powers to monitor people’s private encrypted messages.