WhatsApp is currently one of the most popular instant messaging platforms in the entire world, and needless to say, whenever a new government bill related to user privacy is under debate, the Meta-owned company obviously has an important word to say.
This time, the Online Safety Bill in the United Kingdom is the one that’s giving WhatsApp headaches, as the local government would essentially be able to scan user conversations and look for any content that would be related to child abuse.
In other words, the government is looking into a way to break the end-to-end encryption, something that WhatsApp isn’t willing to accept.
WhatsApp: Breaking E2E is a big no-no
CEO Will Cathcart told BBC in an interview that WhatsApp wouldn’t agree to compromise the privacy of all users just because the government wants to scan the conversations of a small number of accounts.
“Client-side scanning cannot work in practice. If we had to lower security for the world, to accommodate the requirement in one country, that…would be very foolish for us to accept, making our product less desirable to 98% of our users because of the requirements from 2%. What’s being proposed is that we – either directly or indirectly through software – read everyone’s messages. I don’t think people want that,” Cathcart said.
On the other hand, the government says that end-to-end encryption could eventually become a roadblock in every attempt to catch criminals hiding under this technology when going online.
“They shouldn’t ignore the clear risk that end-to-end encryption could blind them to this content and hamper efforts to catch the perpetrators,” a government spokesperson was quoted as saying by the same source. “We continue to work with the tech sector to support the development of innovative technologies that protect public safety without compromising on privacy.”