In today’s world, technology is advancing, and new apps and features are introduced each day. In the age of privacy and security, almost all messaging apps ensure customers that their data and messages are secure. Many apps use end-to-end encryption, where messages can’t be read by the company itself; they can only be read between the sender and receiver.

According to a recent study by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), cases of online child grooming in the UK have risen exponentially in recent years. The United Kingdom (UK) is trying to protect children and young people, and an Online Safety Bill is currently being debated in Parliament. The bill proposes that encrypted messages can be read and handed over to law enforcement if a child’s safety is a concern. The bill lays down some strict rules with high financial penalties for tech firms if they don’t comply.

In response to these events, some US tech companies are threatening to leave the UK and operate in a country with more favorable regulations. These companies addressed the fact that data security and privacy are very important and can’t be handed over.

To understand the public’s opinion on the matter, Real Research, the online survey app, conducted a survey on U.S. tech giants possibly leaving the UK.


  • Over 50% said that the impact of the UK’s new Online Safety Bill on the tech industry is seen as a concern.
  • The UK must find a balance between regulation and innovation, said by 62.58%
  • 49.35% said that a lack of sufficient understanding of technology could lead to regulation that doesn’t address the complexities of the industry.

US Tech Companies Are Threatening to Leave the UK

Currently, the UK is debating the Online Safety Bill, which is considered a source of concern for many tech companies. The bill could impose some regulatory restrictions that the US tech companies oppose. The US tech companies are threatening to leave the UK, an idea that 38.06% were vaguely aware of, 39.44% were well aware of, and 22.5% seemed unaware of.

Figure 1: Awareness of US tech companies threatening to leave the UK

Some US tech giants are threatening to quit the UK and move their operations to countries with more favorable regulations. Mustafa Suleyman, Co-Founder of AI firm DeepMind, sold his company to a US tech giant in 2014. Suleyman stated that he doesn’t regret selling his firm and said, “The US market is not only huge but also more predisposed to taking big shots.”

Online Safety Bill Impact

Tech regulations in the UK could have an impact on the applications’ security measures. The Online Safety Bill’s encryption demands, such as examining end-to-end encrypted messages, could impact communication privacy and security within the app. These demands are the main reasons why US tech companies are threatening to leave the UK The impact itself wasn’t clear to 37.54%, whereas 26.18% thought the impact would be positive, 19.79% thought it would be very positive, 13.73% thought it would be negative, and 2.76% thought it would be very negative.

The bill proposes routine monitoring of citizens’ communications by the government in an attempt to tackle child sexual abuse and exploitation content. Critics claim this is “doomed to fail on the technological level” and incompatible with maintaining people’s right to privacy and the security of their information. The impact of the UK’s new Online Safety Bill on the tech industry is seen as a concern by 50.82%, whereas 27.63% were concerned about the impact, 19.38% were neutral, 1.44% weren’t concerned, and 0.73% weren’t concerned at all.

Figure 2: Concern about the potential impact of the Online Safety Bill on the tech industry

Balance Between Regulation and Innovation

It’s considered important for the UK to strike a balance between regulation and innovation by 62.58%, 37.85% believe it’s important, and 24.73% believe it’s very important. 31.15% weren’t sure about the importance of the matter, 5.18% said it was not important, and 1.09% said it was not important at all.

Although UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, aims to attract artificial intelligence (AI) companies to the UK, 33.27% weren’t sure how the UK would maintain a balance between attracting tech businesses and enforcing necessary regulations. 32.84% were confident that the UK would be able to maintain such a balance, 23.41% weren’t very confident, 9.08% weren’t confident, and 1.40% weren’t confident at all.

Figure 3: Confidence the UK can balance between attracting tech businesses and enforcing necessary regulations

Do Lawmakers Understand the Technology?

So many tech experts are concerned that UK lawmakers wouldn’t understand the technology properly, which could be another reason why US tech companies are threatening to leave the UK. In this context, economist Dame Diane Coyle said, “There are some people in government who’ve got very deep [tech] knowledge, but just not enough of them.” This could be a concern if lawmakers don’t understand the technology they are trying to regulate.

Almost half (49.35%) said that a lack of sufficient understanding of technology could lead to regulation that does not effectively address the complexities of the tech industry. 33.67% weren’t sure of the causation, and 16.98% opposed it.


Survey TitleSurvey on U.S. Tech Giants Possibly Leaving the UK
DurationAugust 21 – August 28, 2023
Number of Participants10,000
DemographicsMales and females, aged 21 to 99
Participating Countries Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, China (Hong Kong) China (Macao), China (Taiwan), Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Greanada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Lithuania, Malaysia, Maldives, Maluritania, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar [Burma], Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.