UK Online Safety Bill Threatens Security, WhatsApp Chief Warns – Slashdot

The head of WhatsApp has warned UK ministers that moves to undermine encryption in a relaunched online safety bill would threaten the security of the government’s own communications and embolden authoritarian regimes. From a report: In an interview with the Financial Times, Will Cathcart, who runs the Meta-owned messaging app, insisted that alternative techniques were available to protect children using WhatsApp, without having to abandon the underlying security technology that safeguards its more than 2bn users. The UK’s bill, which the government argues will make the internet safer, has become a focus of global debate over whether companies such as Google, Meta and Twitter should be forced to proactively scan and remove harmful content on their networks.

Tech companies claim it is not technically possible for encrypted messaging apps to scan for material such as child pornography without undermining the security of the entire network, which prevents anyone — including platform operators — from reading users’ messages. Cathcart said the UK’s ultimate position on the issue would have a global impact. “If the UK decides that it is OK for a government to get rid of encryption, there are governments all around the world that will do exactly the same thing, where liberal democracy is not as strong, where there are different concerns that really implicate deep-seated human rights,” he said, citing Hong Kong as a potential example.

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