UK Government ‘alarmist spin’ on encryption

Open Rights Group denounce the UK Government’s ‘alarmist spin’ on encryption

  • Scaremongering campaign by UK Home Office will make public less safe by undermining trust in secure smartphone messaging 
  • Over half a million pounds of taxpayers’ money spent on advertising campaign
  • Open Rights Group says weakening encryption through Online Safety Bill will only help predators, criminals, blackmailers and scammers

Open Rights Group and leading security and technology experts have accused Home Secretary Priti Patel of misleading the public with a “scaremongering” campaign against end-to-end encryption, the technology that keeps messages through services such as WhatsApp and Signal private.

The TV, radio and newspaper advertising campaign, created by M&C Saatchi accuses social media companies that use encryption of “blindfolding” the government. 

Jim Killock, Executive Director from Open Rights Group believes the scaremongering campaign by M&C Saatchi is being used to soften up public opinion prior to amendments to the Online Safety Bill that would allow the government to install backdoors into end to end encrypted messaging apps, and condemns the UK Home Office for exploiting emotive narratives to manipulate the public.

Jim Killock said: “This crass campaign shows how desperate the government is to scare people into supporting the ill-conceived Online Harms Bill. If the government weakens encryption, it will only help predators, criminals, blackmailers, and scammers. The Online Safety Bill is not designed to prosecute criminals, but to delete egregious materials online. Their campaign is a shameful distraction tactic and wholly misleading.”

The Internet Society’s Director of Internet Trust, Robin Wilton told Rolling Stone magazine: “The Home Office’s scaremongering campaign is as disingenuous as it is dangerous. Without strong encryption, children are more vulnerable online than ever. Encryption protects personal safety and national security.  What the government is proposing puts everyone at risk.”

Open Rights Group – in partnership with One Minute Briefs – launched a creative challenge to harness the power of hundreds of independent creatives to produce multiple creative assets to rebut the M&C Saatchi campaign. The creative will be used in a paid social media campaign led by civil society that will reach millions of UK citizens starting tomorrow.


Notes to editors

For an interview with Jim Killock please contact:

About Open Rights GroupFounded in 2005, Open Rights Group (ORG) is a UK-based digital campaigning organisation working to protect your rights to privacy and free speech online.
Digital technology has transformed the way we live and opened up limitless new ways to communicate, connect, share and learn across the world. But for all the benefits, technological developments have created new threats to our human rights. The Open Rights Group exist to raise awareness of these threats and challenge them through public campaigns, media commentary, legal actions, policy interventions and tech projects.

About One Minute Briefs One Minute Briefs promote brands & causes via social media by challenging our creative community on Twitter to respond with instinctive ideas to daily advertising briefs & reward the best entries. All submissions are retweeted to over 34,500 followers, which generates millions in reach every single day, enabling brands to interact with huge audiences in an engaging, cost-effective way whilst creating quality content. OMB serves as a popular, diverse & inclusive social network for the creative industry across the world and hosts regular workshops, talks & events for its followers, otherwise known as the OMBLES.