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WhatsApp Calls on the UK Government to Amend Proposed Bill that Would ‘Break End-to-End Encryption’

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WhatsApp’s Testing a New ‘Channels’ Broadcast Chat Functionality

WhatsApp has launched a last ditch effort to get the UK Government to amend its proposed Online Safety Bill, with an open letter in which it explains that the proposed Bill would effectively ban messaging encryption, and could force Meta to restrict its offerings in the region.

The Online Safety Bill is designed to provide additional protections for younger users online, by implementing more stringent requirements, and penalties, for online platforms around underage use.

As part of this, the Bill also calls for mandatory oversight into all elements of user interactions, which WhatsApp says would ‘open the door to trying to force technology companies to break end-to-end encryption on private messaging services’.

Essentially, the UK Government is seeking to enable greater access by law enforcement to protect youngsters, but WhatsApp says that it cannot adhere to such requirements without getting rid of encryption.

Which has now prompted this latest move by WhatsApp, in order to apply public pressure on UK Parliament to re-consider.

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As per WhatsApp:

“Around the world, businesses, individuals and governments face persistent threats from online fraud, scams and data theft. Malicious actors and hostile states routinely challenge the security of our critical infrastructure. End-to-end encryption is one of the strongest possible defenses against these threats, and as vital institutions become ever more dependent on internet technologies to conduct core operations, the stakes have never been higher.”

WhatsApp says that the Bill, as currently drafted, could break end-to-end encryption, even though that’s not the intention.

“The Bill provides no explicit protection for encryption, and if implemented as written, could empower OFCOM to try to force the proactive scanning of private messages on end-to-end encrypted communication services – nullifying the purpose of end-to-end encryption as a result and compromising the privacy of all users. In short, the Bill poses an unprecedented threat to the privacy, safety and security of every UK citizen and the people with whom they communicate around the world, while emboldening hostile governments who may seek to draft copy-cat laws.”

Early last month, WhatsApp warned that it could be forced out of the UK if the new regulations are implemented. And with Meta looking to expand end-to-end encryption to all its messaging platforms, that could mean that Facebook and Instagram would also need to re-assess their UK presence, as a result of this shift.

Twitter is also moving towards the implementation of full encryption for DMs, while various other platforms also utilize encrypted messaging.

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As per WhatsApp’s assessment, all of these tools could be under threat, which could have a big impact on how they operate in the region.

The UK Government has long opposed messaging encryption, and Meta’s expanded encryption push. Last September, then UK Home Affairs Secretary Priti Patel called on Meta to reconsider its plans for expanded messaging encryption, as it could impede the ability of police to investigate and prevent child abuse. At the time, Patel labeled the shift to full encryption as ‘catastrophic’.

Other UK law enforcement and safety officials have echoed this, calling on the UK Government to implement new laws to stop Meta from effectively facilitating criminal activity by cloaking it behind an encryption wall.

But as WhatsApp notes, user privacy is increasingly becoming an expectation, with more people now turning to private, encrypted messaging to engage with friends freely.

We don’t think any company, government or person should have the power to read your personal messages and we’ll continue to defend encryption technology. We’re proud to stand with other technology companies in our industry pushing back against the misguided parts of this law that would make people in the UK and around the world less safe.

Will Meta pull out of the UK entirely as a result? That still seems like an extreme measure, but at the least, WhatsApp could be forced out of the market, before Meta considers its other messaging tools.

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Ideally, a compromise can be met, but WhatsApp seems serious about its stance, which could lead to a definitive stand-off ahead of the Bill being enacted.

The Bill will be debated in the House of Lords before the next stage of its passage.

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Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?

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Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?

In a recent announcement, Snapchat revealed a groundbreaking update that challenges its traditional design ethos. The platform is experimenting with an option that allows users to defy the 24-hour auto-delete rule, a feature synonymous with Snapchat’s ephemeral messaging model.

The proposed change aims to introduce a “Never delete” option in messaging retention settings, aligning Snapchat more closely with conventional messaging apps. While this move may blur Snapchat’s distinctive selling point, Snap appears convinced of its necessity.

According to Snap, the decision stems from user feedback and a commitment to innovation based on user needs. The company aims to provide greater flexibility and control over conversations, catering to the preferences of its community.

Currently undergoing trials in select markets, the new feature empowers users to adjust retention settings on a conversation-by-conversation basis. Flexibility remains paramount, with participants able to modify settings within chats and receive in-chat notifications to ensure transparency.

Snapchat underscores that the default auto-delete feature will persist, reinforcing its design philosophy centered on ephemerality. However, with the app gaining traction as a primary messaging platform, the option offers users a means to preserve longer chat histories.

The update marks a pivotal moment for Snapchat, renowned for its disappearing message premise, especially popular among younger demographics. Retaining this focus has been pivotal to Snapchat’s identity, but the shift suggests a broader strategy aimed at diversifying its user base.

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This strategy may appeal particularly to older demographics, potentially extending Snapchat’s relevance as users age. By emulating features of conventional messaging platforms, Snapchat seeks to enhance its appeal and broaden its reach.

Yet, the introduction of message retention poses questions about Snapchat’s uniqueness. While addressing user demands, the risk of diluting Snapchat’s distinctiveness looms large.

As Snapchat ventures into uncharted territory, the outcome of this experiment remains uncertain. Will message retention propel Snapchat to new heights, or will it compromise the platform’s uniqueness?

Only time will tell.

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Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach

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Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach

While it is tempting to try to appeal to a broad audience, the founder of alcohol-free coaching service Just the Tonic, Sandra Parker, believes the best thing you can do for your business is focus on your niche. Here’s how she did just that.

When running a business, reaching out to as many clients as possible can be tempting. But it also risks making your marketing “too generic,” warns Sandra Parker, the founder of Just The Tonic Coaching.

“From the very start of my business, I knew exactly who I could help and who I couldn’t,” Parker told My Biggest Lessons.

Parker struggled with alcohol dependence as a young professional. Today, her business targets high-achieving individuals who face challenges similar to those she had early in her career.

“I understand their frustrations, I understand their fears, and I understand their coping mechanisms and the stories they’re telling themselves,” Parker said. “Because of that, I’m able to market very effectively, to speak in a language that they understand, and am able to reach them.” 

“I believe that it’s really important that you know exactly who your customer or your client is, and you target them, and you resist the temptation to make your marketing too generic to try and reach everyone,” she explained.

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“If you speak specifically to your target clients, you will reach them, and I believe that’s the way that you’re going to be more successful.

Watch the video for more of Sandra Parker’s biggest lessons.

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Instagram Tests Live-Stream Games to Enhance Engagement

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Instagram Tests Live-Stream Games to Enhance Engagement

Instagram’s testing out some new options to help spice up your live-streams in the app, with some live broadcasters now able to select a game that they can play with viewers in-stream.

As you can see in these example screens, posted by Ahmed Ghanem, some creators now have the option to play either “This or That”, a question and answer prompt that you can share with your viewers, or “Trivia”, to generate more engagement within your IG live-streams.

That could be a simple way to spark more conversation and interaction, which could then lead into further engagement opportunities from your live audience.

Meta’s been exploring more ways to make live-streaming a bigger consideration for IG creators, with a view to live-streams potentially catching on with more users.

That includes the gradual expansion of its “Stars” live-stream donation program, giving more creators in more regions a means to accept donations from live-stream viewers, while back in December, Instagram also added some new options to make it easier to go live using third-party tools via desktop PCs.

Live streaming has been a major shift in China, where shopping live-streams, in particular, have led to massive opportunities for streaming platforms. They haven’t caught on in the same way in Western regions, but as TikTok and YouTube look to push live-stream adoption, there is still a chance that they will become a much bigger element in future.

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Which is why IG is also trying to stay in touch, and add more ways for its creators to engage via streams. Live-stream games is another element within this, which could make this a better community-building, and potentially sales-driving option.

We’ve asked Instagram for more information on this test, and we’ll update this post if/when we hear back.

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