WhatsApp threatens to leave the UK amid new government policies

WhatsApp ‘s end-to-end encryption means that no one, not even governments, can read your personal chats. The UK wants to change this.


A major controversy is brewing between the UK and WhatsApp as the government is in the midst of creating a bill that may require the app to remove its end-to-end encryption.

Removing this function, which prevents people outside the conversations from reading WhatsApp messages , would even be decisive for Meta, who could leave the territory due to this requirement

UK vs. WhatsApp

The online security bill has been in the making for 4 years and has more than 250 pages.

The bill gives Ofcom (the communications regulator) the power to impose requirements for social networks to use technology to combat terrorism or child sexual abuse content, with fines of up to 10% of global turnover for those services that do not comply. Companies must use “best efforts” to develop or obtain technology to comply with the notice.

“The bill does not provide explicit protection for encryption,” a coalition of vendors, including market leaders WhatsApp and Signal , said in an open letter last month, “and if implemented as written, it could empower Ofcom to try to force proactive scanning of private messages on end-to-end encrypted communication services, as a result defeating the purpose of end-to-end encryption and compromising the privacy of all users.”

This situation has been analyzed by WhatsApp , who assure that only 2% of their users are in the United Kingdom, so they would not put the rest at risk. “98% of our users are outside the UK,” WhatsApp boss Will Cathcart told The Guardian in March. “They don’t want us to lower the security of the product and it would just be a strange choice for us to choose to lower the security of the product in a way that would affect 98% of users.”

And the legislators themselves are concerned about these government decisions. “They have a system that works for billions of people around the world. A relatively small market like the UK is not something their billions of users around the world would commit to,” says Claire Fox, who sits in the House of Lords.