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Signal plans to leave the UK

by on25 September 2023

We will not allow spooks to spy on users

The Signal Foundation, which maintains the nonprofit Signal messaging app, has confirmed that it will leave the UK due to the country's recently passed Online Safety Bill.

For those who came in late, the Online Safety Bill was supposed to protect children from BBC presenters but seems to have had a more general spying purpose.

What annoyed Signal was that the flaw forced it to build backdoors into its end-to-end encryption so that the British spooks could read messages.

Signal Foundation president Meredith Whittaker said that the foundation will leave the UK if it comes down to the choice between backdooring our encryption and betraying the people who count on us for privacy or going.

The Online Safety Bill, which was passed into law in September, includes a clause -- clause 122 -- that, depending on how it's interpreted, could allow the U.K.'s communications regulator, Ofcom, to break the encryption of apps and services under the guise of making sure illegal material such as child sexual exploitation and abuse content is removed.

Ofcom could fine companies not in compliance up to $22.28 million, or 10 per cent of their global annual revenue, under the bill -- whichever is greater.

Whittaker didn't mince words in airing her fears about the Online Safety Bill's implications. "We're not about political stunts, so we're not going just to pick up our toys and go home to show the bad UK they're being mean," she said.

"We're apprehensive about people in the UK who would live under a surveillance regime like the one that seems to be teased by the Home Office and others in the UK."


Last modified on 25 September 2023
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