The UK’s online security bill compromises end-to-end encryption for instant messaging apps like WhatsApp, which has shown reluctance to change its security model for 2% of its users.
WhatsApp fears that Ofcom, the communications regulator of the UK can force scanning of private messages in end-to-end encrypted communication services, given the “express ambiguity” of the country’s new online security law in this regard. It will not violate your security model.
It would be impossible to apply the law otherwise. The rule would give Ofcom the power to set requirements and read messages from apps like WhatsApp, to combat terrorism or child sexual abuse contentand punish them with fines of up to 10% of global billing for those services that do not comply.
At the same time, would force the protection of WhatsApp to its users to be reduced, something for which the company would not be willing to work. The United Kingdom accounts for only 2% of WhatsApp customers, so changing the encryption of messages for the country would modify “a model that works for the rest of the users in the world.”
“They don’t want us to reduce product safety and it would just be a strange choice for us to choose to reduce product safety to comply with their law. Our model works for millions of users”, has expressed the director of WhatsApp, Will Cathcart.
Thus, the situation continues in an impossible challenge: Messaging apps that protect their user data with end-to-end encryption simply can’t let you read users’ messages without breaking their security promises.
A current debate in the House of Lords
The dispute over the bill has had supports and detractors in the british parliament. Among the detractors, the common argument is that the fight will only lead to the forced departure of the companies from the country, as the independent deputy has expressed.
“They are not threatening to leave. You don’t do it in any kind of negotiation that way. As we put enormous pressure on these platforms to scan communications, we must remember that they are global platforms,” he said.
Among those who support the new rule, the spokeswoman for the Ministry of the Interior has defended its need: “We support strong encryption, but this cannot be at the cost of public safety. Tech companies have a moral duty to make sure they don’t blind themselves or law enforcement to the unprecedented levels of child sexual abuse on their platforms.”