The UK may ban WhatsApp over privacy concerns, ministers said


The UK government risks a clash with WhatsApp that could see the messaging app disappear from Britain, ministers have warned, as options for an amicable resolution are quickly running out.

The Online Safety Bill is a comprehensive piece of legislation that will heavily impact various aspects of online life in Britain and is the focal point of the current dispute. More than four years in the making, eight secretaries of state and five prime ministers were the bill, which is currently going through the House of Lords, is over 250 pages long and has involved many people in its creation. The table of contents alone is ten pages in length.

The bill gives Ofcom the authority to require social networks to use technology to prevent terrorism or child sexual abuse content. If companies don’t follow the notice, they can be fined up to 10% of their global turnover. Companies should try to comply with the information using all available resources to avoid this.

But for messaging apps that protect user data through “end-to-end encryption” (E2EE), it’s technically impossible to fundamentally read user messages without breaking their promises. It is, they say, an action they will not take.

“The bill provides no clear protections for encryption,” said a coalition of providers, including Last month, WhatsApp and Signal, which are market leaders, wrote an open letter. “If implemented as written, it could give Ofcom the power to try to force active scanning. End-to-end Private messages on-end encrypted communication services, Compromising the privacy of all users defeats the purpose of end-to-end encryption.

If push comes to shove, they say, they will choose to protect the security of their non-UK users. WhatsApp chief Will Cathcart told the Guardian in March, “98 per cent of our users are outside the UK. “They don’t want us to compromise the security of the product, and as a matter of fact, it would be an odd choice for us to compromise the security of the product in a way that would affect that 98% of users.”

Lawmakers have urged the government to give due consideration to the concerns raised. During a session at the House of Lords last week, Claire Fox expressed apprehension that services such as WhatsApp might pull out of the UK. She emphasized that this was not a threat but a real possibility. It is essential to remember that these platforms are used worldwide, and putting excessive pressure on them to monitor communications might have adverse effects.

Their system is designed to work efficiently for billions of people across the globe. A relatively small market like the UK is not something they will compromise on with billions of users worldwide.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “We support strong encryption, but it cannot come at the expense of public safety. Tech companies have a moral responsibility not to blind themselves and law enforcement to unprecedented child sexual abuse on their platforms.

“The Online Security Bill does not represent a ban on end-to-end encryption in any way; it would not require services to weaken encryption.

Please provide more context. It is unclear what you refer to with the phrase “Where it is the only effective, proportionate and necessary.” Please provide additional information or clarify your question. Measure available, Ofcom will be able to direct platforms to use recognized technologies or make the best efforts to develop new technologies, to accurately identify child sexual abuse content so that it can be brought down and reprehensible. The poachers have been brought to justice.”
Richard Allan, the Liberal Democrat peer who served as head of policy at Mater for a decade until 2019, described the government’s approach as “deliberate vagueness”.

Although they claim they don’t want to prohibit end-to-end encryption, they are unwilling to affirm that they cannot do so with the new legislation. This creates a tense situation where governments believe companies will comply with their demands for more stringent technology regulations if they use threats.

“The government hopes that the companies will be the first to blink in the game of chicken and give them what they want.”

Another scenario, Allan said, could be that the government comes clean and announces it intends to limit end-to-end encryption. “This would at least allow for an orderly transition, should services choose to withdraw products from the UK market rather than operate here under these conditions. There may be no significant withdrawal, and the UK government can congratulate itself on calling the firms’ bluff and getting what they want at a fraction of the cost, but I doubt that will happen.”

The bill’s supporters, however, need to be addressed with efforts to rewrite it to fit big tech. Damian Collins, the Conservative MP who chairs the Westminster committee that scrutinized the bill, said he did not support an amendment to protect end-to-end encryption.

It is not advisable to leave it up to companies to decide whether or not they will adhere to the responsibilities laid out in the bill, as this is subjective.

According to Collins, the bill does not target encryption; it simply mandates that messaging companies share their access information, which does not include the content of messages. However, he said that authorities should be able to access background data behind users, including data on app usage, contacts, location and user group names.

According to Collins, WhatsApp can gather data about the websites users visit before and after sending messages, even when accessed through a web browser.

According to a Politico article this week, the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology seeks to resolve the conflict and is open to discussing the matter with interested parties.

In 2019, the CEO of Digital Content Next, Jason Kint, brought attention to a US antitrust complaint that included communications between Mark Zuckerberg and his policy chief Nick Clegg. In these communications, they discussed the significance of privacy and highlighted encryption as a “smokescreen” in discussions about integrating the backend of Mater apps.

Clegg stated, “Should we prioritize E2EE over interoperability? Given political realities, the latter may be more susceptible to being blocked.”
He added that it’s “straightforward to explain” why E2EE is helpful for users where integrating the interoperability of apps is “our a game for convenience, not necessarily for users” seems to be.

About the author

Marta Lopez

I am a content writer and I write articles on sports, news, business etc.

By Marta Lopez


Get in touch

Content and images available on this website is supplied by contributors. As such we do not hold or accept liability for the content, views or references used. For any complaints please contact Use of this website signifies your agreement to our terms of use. We do our best to ensure that all information on the Website is accurate. If you find any inaccurate information on the Website please us know by sending an email to and we will correct it, where we agree, as soon as practicable. We do not accept liability for any user-generated or user submitted content – if there are any copyright violations please notify us at – any media used will be removed providing proof of content ownership can be provided. For any DMCA requests under the digital millennium copyright act
Please contact: with the subject DMCA Request.