The UK could threaten global encryption as Online Safety Bill enters final stage


Posts: 9,572   +120
Staff member
In context: The UK's highly controversial Online Safety Bill, often referred to as the Snoopers' Charter, which many warn could have a global impact on encryption standards, is in the final stages of being passed into law. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has posted a warning that if it passes, the bill will be a huge step backward for global privacy.

The Online Safety Bill is now in the last stages before passage in the UK's House of Lords. It has been around for over four years now and is finally edging closer to becoming law.

The bill contains many controversial elements, including web content moderation and allowing detailed reports of individuals' online activity to be sent to the government. But it's the section on encryption that is causing the greatest outcry, not only in the UK but globally.

The bill asks tech companies to use "accredited technology" to identify child sexual abuse or terrorist content "whether communicated publicly or privately." Since companies that use encrypted end-to-end messages can't see these contents themselves, the only solution would be to compromise them – and users' privacy.

The UK government says it needs to be able to scan encrypted messages to identify serious crimes. But companies that use them, including WhatsApp, Apple, and Signal, say it 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."

WhatsApp chief Will Cathcart said there is no way to change encryption in just one part of the world. "The reality is, our users all around the world want security. Ninety-eight percent of our users are outside the UK. They do not want us to lower the security of the product, and just as a straightforward matter, it would be an odd choice for us to choose to lower the security of the product in a way that would affect those 98% of users," he explained.

The UK government insists that it will be able to scan encrypted messages while maintaining user privacy and that the bill does not represent a weakening of encryption - claims that the EFF says is a case of denying reality.

The organization adds that end-to-end encryption was not fully considered and voted on during either committee or report stage in the House of Lords. The Lords could still add an amendment to specify that end-to-end encryption can't be weakened or removed, but that seems unlikely to happen.

WhatsApp and Signal have both warned they could pull their services from the UK if the bill passes in its current form. There are also warnings that its introduction could age-gate Wikipedia, forcing the platform to shut down in the country.

It's not just the Online Safety Bill causing concern among tech giants. The UK's Home Office wants to update its Investigatory Powers Act 2016 with changes that include giving the ministerial department the power to access encrypted content via a technology capability notice (TCN), a move that has seen Apple threaten to remove FaceTime and iMessage from the UK.

Permalink to story.

Remember, the Government is here to help!

Every single politician that has voted for this bill should have all of their messages publicly broadcast to the world, since they have nothing to hide, right? And considering that this is the same country where politicians can be denied the ability to bank based on their politics, and citizens are now routinely arrested in london for saying Mean Things, Im SURE this will never be used to subjugate the populace to more tyranny, no siree!
How can an isolated little island near the EU could "threaten global encryption" ? when is the world went crazy ? ( yea yea I know, it's been a while... )
If it stops even one Russian, Chinese, or similar enemy hacker it will be well worth it!
If it stops even one Russian, Chinese, or similar enemy hacker it will be well worth it!
Its not about stopping anything, read the fine print, the pages they not showing you.
With AI able to control your device it can put in message that you have not typed.... that one simple fact is already the first warning
There's probably not one British politician in power today that has any idea of the implications of this bill, and certainly no idea how much the populace resent their meddling in what little privacy we have left.
IMO this is a cope.

The old dusty politicians appear senile, yet they seem to keep figuring out how to present bills like this that would obliterate privacy and enable massive spying networks.

They know EXACTLY what they are doing. They do not think of you as a person. You are beneath them. A bug to be crushed.
Then the companies just don't need to have jurisdiction or do business in the UK, easy enough. Funny though, the politicians that are saying this is to fight child sex trafficking are some of the biggest pedophiles and traffickers themselves. A wolf in sheep's clothing. They will attack us for everything we do online while they get away with the most heinous things on earth.
The truly ghastly Tory party which is responsible for this (and for the horror-show that is Brexit) will be out of power for a very long time come the next election, so the UK will hopefully start to move back into line with the rest of the world. It's so sad seeing the freak-show that is Rishi Sunak, Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees Mogg, Teresa May, Michael Fabricant etc etc running the UK so badly.
Remember who is truly behind this: the secret services! Politicians who are lowering encryption are digging their own hole, as this can be used against them. The only organisations who really want this, are the secret services. They are lobbying for years for this.
The relentless march towards totalitarianism continues! The UK seems to be leading the charge in Europe. More people need to wake up and face the harsh reality - not just of this removal of privacy and other freedoms, but of the propaganda (lies) being repeated day after day about pretty much everything.

To read the mainstream media, and believe it, you have to deny reality and turn off your cognitive functions. Don't think otherwise you're doomed to discover the awful truth! And we wouldn't want that, would we?

Many, if not all, of these politicians are so stupid that they actually believe the lies. That makes them even more dangerous.