The chief of Whatsapp has warned the government against making drastic changes to message encryption in the online safety bill.
Speaking with the Financial Times, Will Cathcart said that there were other ways of protecting children on apps rather than threatening encryption and explained that any move to undermine security could endanger the government’s own communications security in the long run.
“We’re in an era on the internet where cyber attacks are going way up, especially from hostile nation states. And so the idea that now is a moment to weaken security, I just think it’s very, very wrong,” Cathcart told the FT.
While the bill is designed to make the internet a safer place, potentially calling for tech firms like Twitter to scan messages for ‘legal but harmful’ content, the boss of the Meta-owned firm said any changes in the UK could create a troubling precedent for other governments “where liberal democracy is not as strong”.
The Centre for Policy Studies also released a new report earlier today, which called on the government to rethink the remit of the online safety bill.
The report said that because Silicon Valley firms will fear huge fines of up to 10 per cent of global revenue they will become far more cautious about the content on their sites, limiting free speech and creating a digital culture of “embracing false positives at the price of compliance”.
“Rather than taking a stand for freedom of expression, this Bill would not only empower politicians across the spectrum to stifle expression but also damage innovation and growth in the technology sector. The cure is very much worse than the disease,” CPS Head of Tech & Innovation Matthew Feeney said.