Rather be blocked in UK than weaken security: WhatsApp

UK’s Online Safety Bill requires messaging companies to remove end-to-end encryption to scan messages
<p>PHOTO: WhatsApp</p>

PHOTO: WhatsApp

San Francisco: Will Cathcart, Meta’s head of WhatsApp, said that he will stop providing services in the UK if the Online Safety Bill required the company to weaken its encrypted-messaging system.

The comments from Will Cathcart were made in a meeting with local politicians and regulators during a visit to London.

Online Safety Bill is the “most concerning piece of legislation” in the western world, said WhatsApp chief.

He added that Meta’s messaging app would not comply with requirements that aim to ban end-to-end encryption or otherwise weaken security.

The end-to-end encryption is used in messaging services to keep messages private from everyone but the sender and the recipient.

To enable the authorities to view the content of private messages on the Meta-owned platform, the government would need to terminate the end-to-end encryption (E2EE).

If this becomes law, WhatsApp would refuse to comply, Cathcart said. “The reality is, our users all around the world want security,” he said, adding that “98% 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“.

The Online Safety Bill gives the regulator Ofcom the right to force apps to adopt “accredited technology” to identify possible child abuse or terrorism materials.

This is widely seen as breaking privacy of its encrypted messages or introducing client side scanning, allowing authorities access to every online device.

Cathcart, however, called for more clarity in the language of the Bill, saying there are a lot of “grey areas” in the legislation.



Online Safety Bill

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