Encryption Versus Child Safety: Westminster Blinks


credit: Nick Carnes

The UK has backed away from a plan to force messaging apps to scan their users' messages for iffy content, the Guardian reports.

Section 122 of the country's new Online Safety Bill would have allowed the country's digital regulator, Ofcom, to order apps to scan communications to see if they contained iffy content.

WhatsApp and Signal had threatened to pull out of the country if the law was passed, saying it would set a dangerous precedent and suggested "other jurisdictions will just copy paste."

On Tuesday, the UK's arts and heritage minister postponed the law until "technically feasible" messaging apps could scan content.

Experts say it could take years, if ever, for messages to be scanned without breaking encryption.

Child safety advocates say governments must be able to unlock end-to-end encrypted messages, while tech companies and privacy activists say a smokescreen for mass government surveillance.

In the US, the Senate's proposed EARN IT Act would force social media platforms to break encryption, while the European Union's Child Sexual Abuse Regulation would require the same.

Consumers expect end-to-end encryption, with the assurance that no third-party listens in, the Consumerist reports.

As of 2022, two billion people depend on encryption every day.

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