The UK government is threatening to end end-to-end encryption, the technology that makes secure messaging apps such as Signal and WhatsApp possible. In an open letter, seven secure messaging apps have warned that the UK’s Online Safety Bill could break end-to-end encryption and make it possible for the government to scan private messages. This could potentially lead to general and indiscriminate surveillance of UK citizens, making it impossible for them to communicate securely.
The Bill also provides no explicit protection for encryption and could empower the communications regulator, OFCOM, to try and force the scanning of private messages. This would not only compromise the privacy of UK citizens, but also set a dangerous precedent for other countries to follow.
Both Signal and WhatsApp have said that they would rather cease services in the UK than compromise the privacy and safety of their users by weakening encryption. This could have serious repercussions for the UK’s digital economy and its citizens’ security.
End-to-end encryption is essential for protecting citizens’ privacy and preventing government overreach. The UK government must reconsider its plans for the Online Safety Bill, or risk undermining the security of its citizens and the people they communicate with around the world.
• The UK’s Online Safety Bill could break end-to-end encryption and enable general and indiscriminate surveillance of UK citizens
• The Bill provides no explicit protection for encryption and could empower OFCOM to force scanning of private messages
• Signal and WhatsApp have said they would cease services in the UK rather than compromise user security
• End-to-end encryption is essential for protecting citizens’ privacy and preventing government overreach