WhatsApp is one of those messaging apps that offers end-to-end encryption. This means that no one outside is able to read the messages of a conversation, be it WhatsApp, government, hacker or whatever. This annoys some countries/regions and the UK is considering removing the encryption.
Under the bill, the UK government could force WhatsApp to enforce content moderation policies that cannot be enforced without removing end-to-end encryption. If WhatsApp refuses to comply, it could face fines of up to 4% of the annual revenue of its parent company, Meta.
But Will Cathcart, the boss of WhatsApp, made it clear that the messaging system would refuse to act if asked to weaken its encryption, since it would do so for all users. “Our users around the world want security – 98% of our users are outside the UK, they don’t want us to reduce the security of the product”does he have declared during a visit to the UK where he met lawmakers to discuss government regulation of the internet.
Meredith Whittaker, president of encrypted messaging app Signal, also said recently that she “would absolutely stop, 100%” to offer its services in the UK if the bill required it to scan messages. The boss of WhatsApp reacted to this statement. “We will not reduce the security of WhatsApp. We have never done this and we have accepted being stranded in other parts of the world”.
WhatsApp is the most popular messaging platform in the UK, used by more than 7 in 10 adults who are online, according to communications regulator Ofcom.