End-to-End Encryption Is on the Line in the U.K. blog.whatsapp.com

On its blog, WhatApp published an open letter co-signed by representatives of Signal, Wire, and other messaging apps which support end-to-end encryption:

The UK government is currently considering new legislation that opens the door to trying to force technology companies to break end-to-end encryption on private messaging services. The law could give an unelected official the power to weaken the privacy of billions of people around the world.

We don’t think any company, government or person should have the power to read your personal messages and we’ll continue to defend encryption technology. We’re proud to stand with other technology companies in our industry pushing back against the misguided parts of this law that would make people in the UK and around the world less safe.

Shiona McCallum and Chris Vallance, BBC News:

Mr Cathcart has told BBC News WhatsApp would rather be blocked in the UK than weaken the privacy of encrypted messaging.

Ms Whittaker has said the same – Signal “would absolutely, 100% walk” should encryption be undermined.

And Swiss-based app Threema has told BBC News weakening its security “in any way, shape, or form” is “completely out of the question”.

Paige Collings and Joe Mullin, of the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

If it passes, the censorious, anti-encryption Online Safety Bill won’t just affect the UK — it will be a blueprint for repression around the world. The UK promoters of this bill talk about the worst content online, like pro-terrorism posts and child abuse material. But the surveillance won’t end there. Companies will be pushed to monitor wider categories of content, and to share information about users between jurisdictions. Journalists and human rights workers will become targets.

It has been said before but it bears repeating: there is no method for a hole in encryption through which only authorized people are able to peek. Whether they admit it or not, U.K. lawmakers have a record of opposing encryption and have repeatedly shown their intention to ban it.