Apr 19, 2023

WhatsApp and Signal Unite Against Online Safety Bill Amid Privacy Concerns

NOTE: This article is not about any of the “normal” topics of this newsletter: genealogy, history, current affairs, DNA, and related topics. However, it is a subject that I feel all computer users should be familiar with, especially those in the United Kingdom:

Encrypted chat apps sign open letter warning of ‘unprecedented threat to safety and security’ of UK citizens.

The rival chat apps WhatsApp and Signal have joined forces in a rare show of unity to protest against the online safety bill, which they say could undermine the UK’s privacy and safety.

In an open letter signed by the heads of both organisations as well as five other encrypted chat apps, the executives say the bill could be used to in effect outlaw end-to-end encryption, which prevents anyone but the intended recipient of a message from seeing its contents.

“The bill provides no explicit protection for encryption,” they say, “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.

“In short, the bill poses an unprecedented threat to the privacy, safety and security of every UK citizen and the people with whom they communicate around the world, while emboldening hostile governments who may seek to draft copycat laws.”

Last month, WhatsApp’s chief, Will Cathcart, said the app would leave the UK rather than submit to a requirement to weaken encryption.

You can read more in an article by Alex Hern published in The Guardian web site at:

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