The online safety bill currently working its way through parliament is set to undermine the privacy of individuals using currently encrypted apps such as WhatsApp.
At the moment if you use WhatAapp or Signal your communications with whoever else via the app are private, they are protected through encryption so third parties cannot easily access them.
However the online safety bill does not include any specific protection for encrypted apps such as WhatAapp and effectively gives government agencies such as OFCOM the right to demand that such companies who are operating the UK monitor their user’s communications.
Because they can’t currently do so, because of the encryption in place, this means WhatAapp and similar communication apps would have to stop encryption in the UK, thus undermining the privacy of all peer to peer communications.
The theory behind the online safety bill is to be more able to track communication related to child abuse, trafficking and terrorism, but to be able to do this you literally have to make everyone’s communications potentially open to government surveillance.
This is an interesting example which reminds us that the Nation State is in some ways still more powerful than global companies, at least sort of….
If the bill goes through then WhatAapp will probably just stop operating in the UK, as the UK only represents 2% of its global user base, it is a global company after all, showing us just how small the UK government is in relation to global forces.
The only other countries which outlaw encryption are China, North Korea, Syria, UAE and Qatar, all countries with not the best human rights record.
So this is what’s becoming of the UK… it is becoming a surveillance state. The real losers are ordinary UK citizens….
Another problem with banning encryption and giving the government more power to store private data is that it makes data breaches more likely. The chances are that if you are surveilling possible criminals, you are probably going to catch some non-criminals in the surveillance net too, exposing their data to potential hacks.
It’s literally another case of the UK government trying to undermine individual human rights, in this case the right to privacy.
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