The Online Safety Bill is back, putting end-to-end encryption in the UK under risk in the name of child safety. Why could the bill lead to WhatsApp leaving the country, and is there another way to protect users and their private communications?
Making the UK “the safest place in the world to go online” by driving away every online service may sound like a pyrrhic course of action, but it’s a not-unthinkable outcome of the latest incarnation of the much-maligned Online Safety Bill, which threatens to leave Brits without access to many services, including WhatsApp.
This new version of the bill, which has gone through multiple incarnations in the hands of the UK’s many recent governments, puts the onus on tech firms with a significant number of UK users to monitor for and act against illegal content shared on their platforms. Expected to come into force in 2024, any non-compliant businesses risk a fine of £18 million, or up to 10% of global turnover.
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