Online Safety Bill’s encryption debate moves to the House of Commons tomorrow

The government has made a ministerial statement with regard to the disputed clause of the Online Safety Bill which would have given the government the right to scan every message online for content related to child abuse or terrorism. The plan seemed a death sentence for end-to-end encryption. The measure would apply to messages sent through WhatsApp, Facebook and Snapchat, for example.

Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries, Stephen Parkinson, said last week at the House of Lords that Ofcom will not be enforcing the controversial provision until technology is developed with the capability. However, this leaves the door open for future monitoring, commentators have warned.

Final amendments to the Online Safety Bill were made during the third reading in the House of Lords on Wednesday 6 September. The Commons will consider these amendments tomorrow, 12 September.

Reportedly Michelle Donelan MP, Minister for the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), has said on Times Radio that the Bill has not been changed.

“If there was a situation where the mitigations that the social media providers are taking are not enough, and if after further work with the regulator, they still can’t demonstrate that they can meet the requirements within the bill, then the conversation about technology around encryption takes place.”