Chatapp Signal will stop offering services in the UK if new legislation would undermine encryption. Signal president Meredith Whittaker told the BBC. “Signal would leave one hundred percent sure,” said Whittaker who is responsible for the policy, image and strategy of the chat app.
Whittaker’s criticism focuses on the controversial Online safety Bill. The bill had previously come under fire from experts and civil rights movements because it would undermine encryption and pose a threat to freedom of expression. Then the British government came up with an amended bill. That, according to policymakers, would not prohibit end-to-end encryption.
Critics argue that the legislation may require platforms and services to monitor the content of their users. “It is important that tech companies do everything possible to ensure that their platforms do not become a breeding ground for paedophiles,” the UK Home Office said.
“The Online safety Bill does not constitute a ban on end-to-end encryption, but makes it clear that technological changes should not be implemented in such a way as to affect public safety, in particular the safety of children on the internet.”
Whittaker calls this “magical thinking, “where policymakers believe it’s possible to have privacy only for the “good guys.” “Encryption protects everyone or it’s broken for everyone.” The Signal president fears that the “backdoors” that should allow message scanning are also being abused by state actors and criminals.
According to Whittaker, the Online safety Bill could jeopardize Signal’s ability to offer services in the UK.
“This can definitely be done, and we would definitely one hundred percent definitely leave than undermine the confidence that people have in us to provide real private communication. We have never weakened our privacy promises and never will.”
Earlier this month, several civil rights movements also sounded the alarm about the legislation, calling for end-to-end encryption and the right to private communications to be protected.