Facebook has long promised the introduction of end-to-end encryption to its messaging services to better protect user privacy. However, many advocates and officials are concerned that this technology could inadvertently provide cover to criminals, including child predators. That’s why British Home Secretary Priti Patel urged the social media giant this week to introduce safeguards against abuse within its encryption technology.
Writing in the Telegraph, Patel warned that the consequences of end-to-end encryption could be “catastrophic” for young Facebook users. She also emphasized that it’s in the financial interest of the company to boost user confidence by protecting children.
“A great many child predators use social media platforms such as Facebook to discover, target and sexually abuse children. These protections need to be in place before end-to-end encryption is rolled out around the world,” Patel said. “It would be completely unacceptable — indeed a grotesque betrayal — for anyone to say this is all too difficult or that it doesn’t really matter.”
Patel went on to say that Facebook should allow for the scanning of users’ messages via an anonymizing feature. However, the company called this “intrusive,” and said it’s working on solutions that won’t require scanning. Of course, this is an extremely tricky issue, and both sides raise valid points. Hopefully Facebook can ultimately find a way to both protect user privacy and protect children at the same time.
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