Meta considers withdrawing WhatsApp from UK over proposed Online Safety Bill

Meta considers withdrawing WhatsApp from UK over proposed Online Safety Bill

...By Henry George for TDPel Media.

Concerns over Online Safety Bill

Meta, the owner of WhatsApp, is reportedly considering withdrawing the popular private messaging app from the UK due to the ongoing debate around the proposed Online Safety Bill.


The bill has raised concerns among children’s charities and the UK Home Office about tech giants taking responsibility for detecting child sexual abuse material (CSAM) and terrorism content on social media networks.

Baroness Claire Fox recently warned the House of Lords that the online safety bill legislation was putting “enormous pressure” on tech giants and that they could simply quit the UK and focus on other markets, such as the billions of users they have worldwide.

Debate over end-to-end encryption

The tech industry argues that protecting users’ privacy is key and that firms should not be able to scan private messages sent by the public.

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They want to build cybersecurity technology called end-to-end encryption into their messaging apps, which prevents anyone outside of the parties receiving messages from viewing them.

The tech giants claim that end-to-end encryption is crucial to fighting online scams, fraud, and data breaches.

On the other hand, some governments and children’s charities argue that paedophiles are using private messaging apps to groom children and share illegal content, completely unnoticed by the service providers.


They also claim that platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter, and Tiktok either need to scan photos and messages and inform the police, or build technology for this purpose.

Tech giants say that asking them to break end-to-end encryption would be like allowing government mass surveillance of the general public, which would be in breach of human rights.

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Debate over monitoring private messages

While tech firms continue to champion end-to-end encryption as being crucial to protecting users’ privacy on the internet, 10 European countries, including Ireland, Spain, Italy, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Belgium, Latvia, and Lithuania, are backing new rules to enable the blanket monitoring of private messages.

They propose a new Chat Control law that would require all online services to use artificial intelligence (AI) to scan every single message or email sent for possible child grooming or CSAM content.

The UK’s Online Safety Bill is similar to the proposed EU Chat Control law, except that the UK legislation is written in a more ambiguous way.

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The bill would enable Ofcom to direct platforms to use accredited technology or make best endeavours to develop new technology to accurately identify child sexual abuse content.

The UK government has emphasised that the bill does not represent a ban on end-to-end encryption, nor will it require services to weaken encryption.

The debate over the Online Safety Bill highlights the challenges of balancing the protection of user privacy with the need to detect and prevent illegal content online.


The tech industry argues that privacy is essential to the freedom and security of individuals, while governments and children’s charities argue that the protection of children from harm must be a priority.

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