Apple opposes UK Online Safety Bill over privacy and user security concerns

Apple opposes the UK’s proposed Online Safety Bill, citing concerns over potential risks to privacy and end-to-end encryption.

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Apple has opposed the Online Safety Bill, which could require encrypted messaging services such as iMessage, WhatsApp, and Signal to monitor conversations for child abuse content.

Law enforcement agencies, the government, and certain child protection charities argue that the technology employed by messaging applications like WhatsApp and Apple’s iMessage hinders their ability to identify and address the sharing of child sexual abuse material.

Apples stated that end-to-end encryption is an essential tool that safeguards the privacy of various individuals, including journalists, human rights activists, and diplomats. It not only assists in shielding ordinary citizens from surveillance, identity theft, fraud, and data breaches but also plays a crucial role in their defense. However, Apple stressed that the proposed Online Safety Bill in the UK poses a significant danger to this protective measure, potentially exposing UK citizens to heightened risks. Apple strongly encourages the government to modify the bill to safeguard robust end-to-end encryption for the well-being of everyone. According to the government, corporations should only utilize end-to-end encryption if they can also prevent the terrible sexual exploitation of kids on their platforms.

The Online Safety Bill, currently under consideration in Parliament, includes provisions that grant communications regulator Ofcom the power to compel platforms to employ approved technology to scan message contents. The government has clarified that these powers would only be utilized as a final option, with strict privacy protections in place. Home Office ministers have strongly criticized Facebook’s implementation of such technology in messaging platforms.