Publicly available encryption is a topic of continuous contention for governments around the world. Intelligence agencies argue that containing encryption practices for popular communication networks, such as Whatsapp, is essential for public safety. Their narrative asserts that “any intrusions into people’s lives are necessary and proportionate” (source). Civil rights group counter this claim by asserting that these measures naturally compromise online security. Furthermore, they pose a threat to civil liberties and human rights, including that of expression (source). This debate has reignited because of the UK’s proposed Online Safety Bill and Data Protection and Digital Information Bill. What are the implications of these bills? How will it impact the debate surrounding publicly available encryption?
Key Judgement 1: The UK will likely pass the Online Safety Bill (OSB) and Data Protection and Digital Information Bill (DPDIB) in the next 18 months because of cross-party data reform efforts in government and the economic implications of Brexit.
Key Judgement 2: It is highly likely that platforms which rely on encryption will resist the Online Safety and Data Protection and Digital Information Bill in the next 18 months.
Key Judgement 3: In the next 18 months there is a realistic probability that adopting the Bills in question will lead to the erosion of encryption, and therefore privacy rights, in democracies around the world.