When Facebook first announced that it was determined to roll out end-to-end encryption for all Messenger users, it was hailed as a gamechanger for user privacy. However, many government agencies and child safety advocates around the world have been strongly critical of the feature, believing it could offer protection to abusers. And this week, the social media giant engaged in another war of words with the UK government over its private messaging plans.
Earlier this summer, UK Home Secretary Suella Braverman sent a letter to Facebook co-signed by law enforcement and advocates that explained her concerns with encryption. And this week, she blasted the company publicly for not doing enough to address the potential problems it could pose for child safety.
“Meta has failed to provide assurances that they will keep their platforms safe from sickening abusers,” she said. “They must develop appropriate safeguards to sit alongside their plans for end-to-end encryption.”
For its part, Facebook insisted it’s only providing a necessary safety feature for users who want to be protected from bad actors.
“We don’t think people want us reading their private messages,” Facebook said in response. “The overwhelming majority of Brits already rely on apps that use encryption to keep them safe from hackers, fraudsters and criminals.”
This is a complicated issue, and these authorities have raised valid concerns. However, Facebook is determined to implement encryption for all Messenger users by the end of the year, so the problem could come to a head sooner rather than later.
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