Nigeria

WhatsApp blocked in UK?

WhatsApp's head, Will Cathcart, has stated that the messaging app would rather be blocked in the UK than weaken the privacy of its encrypted messages under the Online Safety Bill.

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Will Cathcart, the head of WhatsApp, has stated that the messaging platform would rather be blocked in the UK than compromise its encrypted-messaging system, if required to do so under the Online Safety Bill. Cathcart made it clear that WhatsApp would refuse to comply if asked to weaken the privacy of encrypted messages. Signal, another messaging app, had previously indicated that it could stop providing services in the UK if the bill required it to scan messages. The UK government has stated that it is possible to balance privacy and child safety. WhatsApp is the most widely used messaging platform in the UK, with more than seven in ten online adults using it, according to communication regulator Ofcom.

Child-Abuse issue

WhatsApp’s head, Will Cathcart, has stated that the messaging app would rather be blocked in the UK than weaken the privacy of its encrypted messages under the Online Safety Bill. The bill grants Ofcom the power to require encrypted messaging apps to adopt “accredited technology” to identify and remove child-abuse material, a move that critics argue would undermine the privacy of messages. WhatsApp, which is used by over seven in 10 online adults in the UK, operates an end-to-end encryption system, meaning that even the company cannot view message contents. Cathcart argued that WhatsApp users worldwide value the security offered by end-to-end encryption and do not want to see it reduced.

Cathcart has said the company would rather be blocked in the UK than weaken its encrypted messaging system, if required to do so under the Online Safety Bill. The bill grants Ofcom the power to require private encrypted-messaging apps to adopt technology to identify and remove child-abuse material, leading critics to argue that it undermines the privacy of such services. Signal had previously said it would stop providing services in the UK if required to weaken its privacy measures. Cathcart stated that WhatsApp would not lower its security, and the app had accepted being blocked in other parts of the world.

The authorities:

The UK government and child protection charities have long argued that end-to-end encryption on messaging platforms hinders efforts to combat online child abuse, but encryption advocates, including WhatsApp’s head, Will Cathcart, say it undermines user privacy. Cathcart said the app would rather be blocked in the UK than comply with any request to weaken encryption. The government has insisted that both privacy and child safety are possible, and that the Online Safety Bill does not represent a ban on encryption. Critics argue that client-side scanning of encrypted messages would undermine the privacy encryption provides.

At the end:

WhatsApp’s head, Will Cathcart, has said that the app would rather be blocked in the UK than undermine its encrypted messaging system if required to do so under the Online Safety Bill. The bill grants Ofcom the power to require private encrypted-messaging apps and other services to adopt “accredited technology” to identify and remove child-abuse material. Signal previously said it would stop providing services in the UK if required by the bill to weaken the privacy of its encrypted messaging system. Both companies have been praised for their secure messaging systems but have been criticized for providing a “breeding ground” for paedophiles. Critics say that the only way to check the contents of encrypted messages for child-sexual-abuse material would be to have services scan them on a device such as a phone before they are encrypted and sent, which undermines the privacy encryption provides.

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