New Letter Calls Out Government's Surveillance Plans

July 5, 2023

As part of our ongoing campaign against the current iteration of the UK's Online Safety Bill, we're taking a stand against measures that threaten end-to-end encryption. The Bill will give Ofcom new powers to compel social media platforms and chat services to scan our private messages, fundamentally undermining the right to privacy. We've joined up with a number of organisations concerned about these measures to call on the Lords to amend the Bill at report stage. Read the full letter text below.


The Rt Hon Chloe Smith MP

Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology


Members of the House of Lords

Dear Secretary of State,

We write to you as a group of organisations, academics and experts from around the world committed to protecting the right to privacy. We urge you to remove powers in the Online Safety Bill that threaten to undermine end-to-end encryption. At present, the Bill poses a serious threat to privacy, a right which is crucial to ensuring that freedom of expression and freedom of association are also protected.

The Bill gives new powers to Ofcom to compel social media networks and chat services to use technology to scan our private messages. This would totally undermine end-to-end encryption and threaten unprecedented corporate and government surveillance. The government has used a false dichotomy between ‘privacy’ and ‘safety’ that treats citizens as the danger to be tackled online. Not only is this bad for people in the UK, it also sets a dangerous precedent for authoritarian governments around the world who will point to the UK to justify rights-restricting legislation of their own.

We urge you to carefully consider amendments to the Bill that protect encryption and ensure that privacy remains a fundamental right to be enjoyed by all citizens.


Kyle Taylor, Founder & Director, Fair Vote UK

Sam Grant, Advocacy Director, Liberty

Wendy Via and Heidi Beirich, co-founders, Global Project Against Hate and Extremism

Seyi Akiwowo, Founder and CEO, Glitch

Silkie Carlo, Director, Big Brother Watch

Jim Killock, Executive Director, Open Rights Group

Jesse Lehrich, Co-Founder, AccountableTech

Jamie Wareham, Journalist and Editor, QueerAF

Vicky Wyatt, Campaign Director, Ekō

Georgia Bullen, Executive Director, Superbloom (previously Simply Secure)

Griff Ferris, Senior Legal and Policy Officer, Fair Trials

Alice Stollmeyer, Founder & Executive Director, Defend Democracy

Xavier Brandao, Director and cofounder, #jesuislà

Liz Crosbie, Project Director, AllianceNow UK

Jacqueline Rowe, Policy Lead, Global Partners Digital

Silkie Carlo, Director, Big Brother Watch

Jim Killock, Executive Director, Open Rights Group

Jesse Lehrich, Co-Founder, AccountableTech

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