WhatsApp and Signal threaten to shut down users in UK due to new law

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Chat apps WhatsApp and Signal are at risk of going black in the UK due to a new law requiring chat apps to scan chats for child abuse material. WhatsApp and Signal say they would rather leave the UK than comply with the new law.

WhatsApp and Signal reason according to Politico that it is impossible to scan for child abuse material without breaking the end-to-end encryption of the chat apps. According to British politicians, this is possible and the chat apps must therefore comply with the law.

The chat apps already said last month to protest against the new law. That happened with an open letter to the British government and other governments. “In short, the bill poses an unprecedented threat to the privacy, safety and security of every citizen of the United Kingdom and the people with whom they interact. It encourages other hostile governments to try to enact such laws as well.” The letter was signed by top executives from WhatsApp, Session, Signal, Element, Threema, Viber and Wire.

The chat services see end-to-end encryption as a critical element of their chat apps and refuse to break it to scan for child abuse material. Apple has tried to put a system in iOS 15 with a scan on the phone itself, but has withdrawn that plan after a lot of internal and external criticism of the plan. Many chat platforms use end-to-end encryption to secure chats so that people can safely communicate with each other.

The basis of Apple Private Set Intersection, the technique the company wants to use to scan images

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