Apple has joined forces with more than 80 civil society organizations, academics, and experts from 23 nations to oppose a UK law that would require routine surveillance of private chats. The Online Safety Bill proposed by the UK government includes provisions that would enable encrypted messaging tools like WhatsApp, Signal, and iMessage to scan messages. While the government claims this is necessary to combat child sexual abuse material (CSAM), critics argue that it would undermine end-to-end encryption and compromise privacy across various sectors, such as journalism, healthcare, and human rights advocacy.
Apple has warned that the Online Safety Bill poses a serious threat to privacy and could put UK citizens at greater risk. The company emphasizes that end-to-end encryption is crucial for protecting the privacy of journalists, human rights activists, and diplomats, and it also helps everyday citizens defend themselves against surveillance, identity theft, fraud, and data breaches. Apple urges the government to amend the bill to prioritize strong encryption for the benefit of all.
While the UK government insists that it can maintain privacy while surveilling individuals, experts argue that this is not feasible. Apple itself attempted to introduce CSAM scanning technology in iMessage but eventually rolled back its plan after realizing that a technical solution that enables surveillance without compromising privacy does not exist. Once a system-level backdoor is put in place, tools to exploit it will inevitably appear, making the digital infrastructure more vulnerable to attacks. This is especially concerning given the prevalence of high-level &https://adarima.org/?aHR0cHM6Ly9tY3J5cHRvLmNsdWIvY2F0ZWdvcnJ5Lz93cHNhZmVsaW5rPTFkbWZaOTN0cjJ3QXBic0NhZGZFZUZsZ2lIbmlrU2pscGRrRmpaV3hYYjNoelkzQXhNelV4UVRoeWR6MDk-8220;surveillance as a service&https://adarima.org/?aHR0cHM6Ly9tY3J5cHRvLmNsdWIvY2F0ZWdvcnJ5Lz93cHNhZmVsaW5rPTFkbWZaOTN0cjJ3QXBic0NhZGZFZUZsZ2lIbmlrU2pscGRrRmpaV3hYYjNoelkzQXhNelV4UVRoeWR6MDk-8221; firms like NSO Group.
The Open Rights Group (ORG) states that scanning in a way that only targets criminals while leaving law-abiding citizens untouched is simply not possible. The UK government&https://adarima.org/?aHR0cHM6Ly9tY3J5cHRvLmNsdWIvY2F0ZWdvcnJ5Lz93cHNhZmVsaW5rPTFkbWZaOTN0cjJ3QXBic0NhZGZFZUZsZ2lIbmlrU2pscGRrRmpaV3hYYjNoelkzQXhNelV4UVRoeWR6MDk-8217;s claim that client-side scanning will not compromise privacy is refuted by evidence and experts in the field. Professor Ross Anderson of Cambridge University and Edinburgh University argues that the proposed surveillance tech prototypes created by the UK Home Office did not meet reasonable requirements for efficacy and privacy. Placing limitations on privacy for law-abiding citizens while ignoring criminals is not a feasible solution. Either everyone has privacy, or no one does.
The potential consequences of the Online Safety Bill extend beyond privacy concerns. Privacy is fundamental to almost every aspect of digital commerce and is considered a human right. If the law is enacted, it could cause significant damage to the UK&https://adarima.org/?aHR0cHM6Ly9tY3J5cHRvLmNsdWIvY2F0ZWdvcnJ5Lz93cHNhZmVsaW5rPTFkbWZaOTN0cjJ3QXBic0NhZGZFZUZsZ2lIbmlrU2pscGRrRmpaV3hYYjNoelkzQXhNelV4UVRoeWR6MDk-8217;s position in the digital economy. Companies that value privacy may be forced to leave the UK, taking their capital, resources, and services elsewhere. Signal and WhatsApp have already stated that they will leave the UK if the proposed regulations are implemented.
The dangers posed by the Online Safety Bill are clear, raising the question of whether the damage it causes is intentional. Critics argue that the law seems designed to make the global online economy less secure while further harming the already struggling UK economy. It is vital to prioritize privacy and security while finding alternative solutions to combatting illegal activities without compromising the fundamental rights of individuals.