Britain is expected to be the first country in the world to block the instant messaging application WhatsApp, due to its refusal to comply with a new law aimed at preventing social networks from being used for illegal acts, including violations of children’s rights.
Britain is witnessing widespread controversy because of a new law that may lead to banning the “WhatsApp” application, along with a number of similar applications, as almost no phone in Britain is devoid of this application, which has become the first communication tool in the country, and has become more used than traditional telephone lines.
According to a report published by the British newspaper “Daily Mail” and viewed by Al Arabiya.net, the “WhatsApp” application faces the possibility of being banned in the United Kingdom, according to a bill that requires technology companies to search for illegal content that is distributed through private social media platforms. out and remove it.
Opponents of the law say it could mean doing away with “full end-to-end encryption”, a security feature that scrambles messages to ensure only the sender and recipient can read them.
According to an open letter signed by a number of companies that own messaging applications, the law could weaken the privacy of billions of people around the world. The companies added: “We do not believe that any company, government or person should have the ability to read your personal messages and we will continue to defend encryption technology.”
The companies that own messaging services signed an open letter opposing the Online Security Bill ahead of its final reading in the House of Lords. “.
The companies say that end-to-end encryption is “one of the strongest possible defenses” against threats such as online fraud, fraud, and data theft.
The signatories also claim that it is the “UK Internet”, which already contains a special version of weak security, that should comply with the fixes, not messaging and communication applications.
The company, “Meta”, which owns the “WhatsApp” application, said explicitly last month that it would refuse to comply with the online safety law.
Speaking ahead of a meeting with lawmakers in Britain to discuss the proposed law, WhatsApp director Will Cathcart described the bill as one of the most troubling pieces of legislation currently being discussed in the Western world. Last September, he said outright that it was “puzzling” that governments wanted to weaken security in this way, not enhance it.
WhatsApp cannot currently see messages sent through its own service, and therefore cannot comply with law enforcement requests to either hand them over for counterterrorism purposes or to identify and remove child abuse material, for example. But the British government insists that it is possible to have privacy while securing the safety of children.
The Online Safety Bill has been working its way through parliament since it was published in draft form in May 2021. Supporters say it is designed to help clamp down on online phishing and illegal forms of pornography by putting more responsibility on the platforms on which users are online.
As part of this, it allows the UK government or communications regulator Ofcom to require companies to check the contents of messages sent through their platforms for illegal content.
The government insisted that the bill “does not constitute a ban on end-to-end encryption” and that “we can and must” secure both privacy and child safety.
But opponents of the law say it does not explicitly say how message content can be monitored and kept encrypted, creating a “gray area”.
The open letter says: “The bill provides no explicit encryption protections and, if implemented as written, could enable the TRA to attempt to force proactive scanning of private messages on end-to-end encrypted communications services, defeating the purpose of end-to-end encryption and threatening the privacy of all users.” “.
Element CEO Matt Hodgson, who also signed the letter, said his company’s ability to serve customers is threatened by the law. “The UK wants its own access to end-to-end encryption systems,” he said.