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vpnMentor was established in 2014 as an independent site reviewing VPN services and covering privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize the independent, professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.

Tech Giants Fight UK Online Safety Bill Encryption Measures

Tech Giants Fight UK Online Safety Bill Encryption Measures
Keira Waddell Published on 2nd July 2023 Senior Writer

The proposed Online Safety Bill in the United Kingdom continues to face growing opposition. Initially drafted in May 2021, the bill aims to combat illegal and harmful content online by granting the government access to end-to-end encryption systems. The measures have attracted widespread criticism from tech giants, security experts, and privacy advocates.

One of the main points of contention revolves around an amendment allowing the UK's communications regulator, Ofcom, to mandate the scanning of end-to-end encrypted messages for child sexual abuse material.

Apple has joined other tech giants in expressing concerns about the bill. The company highlighted the critical role of E2E encryption in protecting the privacy of individuals such as journalists, human rights activists, and diplomats.

Apple urged the government to amend the bill to safeguard strong encryption, emphasizing the potential risks to UK citizens if encryption is compromised. While Apple's response did not clarify its stance on compliance with encryption-weakening requirements, non-compliance could result in significant fines and potential criminal liability for senior executives.

WhatsApp and Signal have also voiced opposition to the bill. WhatsApp stated it would prefer to be blocked by UK authorities rather than weaken encryption levels. Signal's president, Meredith Whittaker, also expressed a commitment to private and secure communication, asserting that Signal would rather withdraw from the UK than compromise user security and privacy.

Privacy advocates, including the Open Rights Group, have raised concerns about the bill, warning of potential routine scanning of private chat messages. They emphasize the risks to the security of digital communication services and the potential impact globally. An alternative approach suggested by privacy advocates is client-side scanning, where images are inspected on the user's device before encryption.

The Online Safety Bill is currently undergoing revisions, but it is uncertain if the modifications will effectively deal with concerns regarding the compulsory scanning of encrypted messages. Despite facing increasing criticism, it is anticipated that the Online Safety Bill will be enacted in the summer, disregarding the reservations expressed by various stakeholders.

About the Author

Keira is an experienced cybersecurity and tech writer dedicated to providing comprehensive insights on VPNs, online privacy, and internet censorship.