Chat monitoring sneaked into Online Safety Bill through back door measure

For immediate release

MPs sent warning that scanning of chat services has sneaked into the Online Safety Bill. [1] The ‘spy clause'[2] goes beyond public posted harmful content and compels messaging platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Signal to scan all Britons’ messages for illicit content.  Digital Rights Group urges everyone to write to their MP immediately to secure the privacy of their phone messages. 

The Open Rights Group’s policy manager on Freedom of Expression, Dr. Monica Horten said:

“Over 40 million people use these services in the UK. This is a massive expansion in surveillance capacity hidden inside a bill designed to protect children from harmful content”.

“Children deserve to grow up in a free society. We all have the right privately message our friends, colleagues, and loved ones.”

“This is a vastly disproportionate measure that will place the security of everyone ‘s messages at risk.”

We urge people to write to their MP immediately and ask them not to destroy the privacy of their messaging services.

Contact

For further comment or information, Press James Baker 07817 605 162/ press@openrightsgroup.org

We have spokespeople available for media appearances. 

Notes to editor Our briefing can be downloaded in PDF format from – https://www.openrightsgroup.org/app/uploads/2022/11/MP-Briefing-on-inclusion-of-private-messaging-survillance-in-Online-Safety-Bill.pdfIt is also available to view on our website at https://www.openrightsgroup.org/publications/whos-checking-on-your-chats-in-private-online-spaces/ Clause 104 is the ‘spy clause’ that grants these powers – https://bills.parliament.uk/bills/3137 with an amendment NC11 expanding the powers further to require companies to develop the software required to undertake this mass surveillance – https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/cbill/58-03/0121/amend/onlinesafety_rm_rep_1130.pdf

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