WhatsApp would rather be banned than weaken its security.
The messaging app - which is owned by Meta, the parent company of brands like Instagram and Facebook - has threatened to remove itself from the UK market rather than edit its encrypted-messaging service to comply with the long-awaited Online Safety Bill.
According to the app’s boss Will Cathcart, they would merely reject any requirement to loosen their privacy settings, and had the precedent of doing exactly that.
He said: "Our users all around the world want security - 98% of our users are outside the UK, they do not want us to lower the security of the product.
"We've recently been blocked in Iran, for example. We've never seen a liberal democracy do that."
This comes after the app Signal - which also boasts an encrypted-messaging service, which means that even the company cannot view what is sent between users - took a similar stance, amid threats of having to share more data with the government after the controversial legislation becomes law. It will compel tech giants - and other firms - to hand over messages containing illegal content like child abuse and so on.
WhatsApp - which is the most popular messaging service in the country - is used by 70 percent of all UK adults, according to the communications regulatory body, Ofcom.
Meredith Whittaker, the president of Signal said that they "would absolutely, 100 per cent walk" from the UK if the law came into be.
Later, she tweeted that she was "looking forward to working with @wcathcart and others to push back,” to which the WhatsApp boss replied: "And very important we work together (and honoured to get to do so) to push back."
When asked if he would go to the extent that Signal has threatened, Will said: "We won't lower the security of WhatsApp. We have never done that - and we have accepted being blocked in other parts of the world." And he feared the UK would set an example other nations might follow.
"When a liberal democracy says, 'Is it OK to scan everyone's private communication for illegal content?' that emboldens countries around the world that have very different definitions of illegal content to propose the same thing,"
However, the bill has been welcomed by children’s safety campaigners like the NSPCC.
Richard Collard, who works with the charity, said that the legislation "will rightly make it a legal requirement for platforms to identify and disrupt child sexual abuse taking place on their sites and services, and companies could be preparing by developing technological solutions that protect the safety and privacy of all users, not least that of child abuse victims.
"Experts have demonstrated that it's possible to tackle child-abuse material and grooming in end-to-end encrypted environments."
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