WhatsApp threatens to leave the United Kingdom which wants to tighten control of encrypted messaging

Meta Group, parent company of Facebook and WhatsApp apps, has threatened to quit the UK after the UK government unveiled an online safety bill called the UK's Online Safety Bill.


Text by: Dominique Desaunay Follow

2 mins

Meta Group, parent company of Facebook and WhatsApp apps, has threatened to quit the UK after the UK government unveiled an

Online Safety Bill

to address online safety.


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This bill entitled "

Online Safety Bill

" plans to detect illegal content, and more particularly terrorist and child pornography messages, by limiting end-to-end encryption on the WhatsApp application.

The measure recommended by the United Kingdom would concern other services such as Signal or Telegram and more generally all online systems which have guaranteed their subscribers the confidentiality of their private conversations.

Concretely, no application dedicated to individuals could offer end-to-end encryption, without a government module being able to analyze all or part of the exchanges between Internet users.

►Also read: In the United Kingdom, resurgence of pirate attacks targeting civil society

Crypto-based strategy

But WhatsApp, with these 2 billion active monthly users in the world, does not hear it that way.

The subsidiary of the Meta group has already warned the authorities of the United Kingdom that it was out of the question to modify the functionalities of its application.

Encrypted messaging, which has based its entire development strategy on securing and encrypting exchanges between Internet users, threatens, if this law comes into force, to simply withdraw its service to the British.


The reality is that users around the world want security

," responded Will Cathcart, WhatsApp boss.


And it would be a very strange choice for us to withdraw it from 98% of our subscribers who reside in other countries

," he argues.

The future of privacy at risk

With this new provision, WhatsApp would be exposed to a fine of up to 4% of its annual turnover.

Same fear on the side of Meredith Whittaker, boss of the Signal application

which states

in a blog post

that " 

the current state of the UK's online safety bill puts the future of privacy and expression in grave danger


Either encryption is broken for everyone, or it works for everyone.

There is no other way to create a backdoor that would be secure

, ”said the boss of Signal.

She also adds that Signal will never comply with the demands of the British government.

The two encrypted messaging platforms, which recalled having been blocked in Iran, preferred to leave the region, rather than submit to the authorities of the country which had made the same type of requirement to monitor its population.

For now, the UK bill does not specify the technical details of the illegal content analysis and detection system that would be used.

But many cybersecurity specialists believe that, whatever the process considered, an encryption of our messages would then no longer be useful. 

►Also listen: 

Can we preserve our personal data?


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