UK Parliament Undermines Privacy, Security and Freedom of All Internet Users by Passing the ‘Online Safety Bill’

“In reality, the OSB will lead to a much more censored, locked-down internet for British users. The bill could empower the government to undermine not just the privacy and security of U.K. residents, but internet users worldwide,” EFF wrote.”Once the bill receives royal assent and becomes law, social media platforms will be expected to remove illegal content quickly or prevent it from appearing in the first place. They will also be expected to prevent children from accessing harmful and age-inappropriate content like pornography by enforcing age limits and age-checking measures.””A clause of the bill allows Ofcom, the British telecom regulator, to serve a notice requiring tech companies to scan their users–all of them–for child abuse content. This would affect even messages and files that are end-to-end encrypted to protect user privacy. As enacted, the OSB allows the government to force companies to build technology that can scan regardless of encryption–in other words, build a backdoor.””If companies do not comply, media regulator Ofcom will be able to issue fines of up to 18 million pounds ($22.3 million) or 10% of their annual global turnover,” reported Reuters.”The OSB will also lead to harmful age-verification systems. This violates fundamental principles about anonymous and simple access that has existed since the beginning of the Internet.””The government, however, has said the bill does not ban end-to-end encryption. Instead it will require companies to take action to stop child abuse on their platforms and as a last resort develop technology to scan encrypted messages, it has said.””Tech companies have said scanning messages and end-to-end encryption are fundamentally incompatible.””In the coming months, we’ll be watching what type of regulations the U.K. government publishes describing how it will use these new powers to regulate the internet.””If the regulators claim their right to require the creation of dangerous backdoors in encrypted services, we expect encrypted messaging services to keep their promises and withdraw from the U.K. if that nation’s government compromises their ability to protect other users,” said the EFF.

Reuters Article / Archive
EFF Article / Archive

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