Apple Joins Opposition to U.K. ‘Online Safety Bill’

Chris Vallance, BBC News:

Police, the government and some high-profile child protection charities maintain the tech [end-to-end encryption] – used in apps such as WhatsApp and Apple’s iMessage – prevents law enforcement and the firms themselves from identifying the sharing of child sexual abuse material.

But in a statement Apple said: “End-to-end encryption is a critical capability that protects the privacy of journalists, human rights activists, and diplomats.

“It also helps everyday citizens defend themselves from surveillance, identity theft, fraud, and data breaches. The Online Safety Bill poses a serious threat to this protection, and could put UK citizens at greater risk.

“Apple urges the government to amend the bill to protect strong end-to-end encryption for the benefit of all.”

Apple was a notably absent signatory on a joint open letter published in April and, unlike some others, it has not yet threatened to remove its end-to-end encrypted products from the U.K. instead of complying with the proposed legislation.

Apple has already implemented screening measures in Messages. Weakening end-to-end encryption should be a worst-case measure after all other options have been exhausted. Instead, governments are only too excited to kneecap safety, security, and privacy.