Facebook’s encryption plan “doesn’t interfere with child protection”


File photo of Priti Patel talking outdoors in January 2021

File photo of Priti Patel talking outdoors in January 2021

The Interior Minister should warn that plans to deploy encryption across Facebook’s messaging services could jeopardize ongoing work to combat child abuse.

Such encryption means that only the sender and recipient can read the message.

“We can’t allow law enforcement agencies to engage in abominable criminal activity and significantly impede their ability to protect victims,” ​​Priti Patel told a charity-sponsored event.

Facebook says a broader encryption plan will protect user privacy.

The National Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse (NSPCC), which called on Ms. Patel to speak, claims that the private message is “at the forefront of child sexual abuse.”

Encrypting messages by default can easily spread images of child abuse and online grooming, he said.

In her speech, the Minister of Interior is expected to demand that Facebook do more to take public safety into account when making changes to the platform-especially to children. Seriously consider the impact of.

She states: “Unfortunately, when we need to take further action, Facebook is pursuing an end-to-end encryption plan that will bring the great work and progress achieved so far. [on fighting the issue of child abuse] At risk.

“The problem continues and the images of abused children surge, but the company intends to be unaware of this problem through end-to-end encryption that prevents all access to messaging content.”

“This is unacceptable.”

However, Facebook says, “End-to-end encryption is the primary security technology used by many services to protect people from hackers and criminals.” Safety features are already part of that plan, he added.

“Scramble” message

The minister told a group of international experts in child protection and law enforcement that Facebook “should take child safety as seriously as the business of selling advertising, phone calls and online games.”

End-to-end encryption guarantees privacy by allowing only the sender or recipient to read the message.

While it is on the move, it is scrambled unreadable, including by law enforcement. The only way to read a message is usually to physically access the unlocked device that receives the message.

Currently, only WhatsApp, one of Facebook’s leading messaging platforms, uses end-to-end encryption by default. The company plans to standardize privacy features on Facebook Messenger and Instagram, but hasn’t done so yet.

If the messaging platform is not end-to-end encrypted, major tech companies such as Facebook will use automatic scanning of user posts to identify shared child abuse images and suspicious use of private messaging. It can be detected. Underage users they do not yet know.

NSPCC claims that if you deploy the encryption as planned, “these will be rendered.” [scanning] The US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children estimates that 70% of child abuse reports worldwide can be lost further.

The NPSCC says it will publish a study suggesting that social media users want to see a guarantee that their children will be safe.

Charities are demanding a “reset” of the argument, claiming it is stuck as a “either / or” argument between personal privacy and child safety.

Instead, there is a need for a “balanced” solution that protects both.

However, there is currently no clear solution that will satisfy both parties. Other possible solutions, such as on-device software that scans before a message is sent, have their own privacy concerns.

Encryption is still “popular”

Accessing the content of encrypted messages has long been debated by the government.

Amber Rudd, one of Patel’s predecessors, Claimed after being attacked by Westminster in 2017 “We need to make sure that our intelligence service has the ability to enter encrypted WhatsApp.”

And former Prime Minister David Cameron said Declaration following the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks There should be no “unreadable” or “means of communication”.

Despite such concerns, encrypted messaging remains a delicate topic with a lot of public support.

Jim Killock, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group, said: “Cryptography is popular and growing because users want security and protection from fraud, fraud, and data misuse.”

“It is completely unreasonable to ban or limit the daily security of one set of people more than another.

“It is imperative to deal with images of child abuse, but the solution must be compatible with people’s rights to protect themselves from other types of crime, so how to stop using encryption Should move away from endless discussions about. “

However, Sir Peter Wanless, CEO of NSPCC, argued that this view risks “leaving children unprotected in the most harmful places.”

“It’s in the company’s interest to find a fix that allows us to continue using technology to thwart abuse in the end-to-end encrypted world,” he added.

And he said that if the tech giant didn’t, “eventually the government would have to be a guardrail” to protect the children.

Facebook has long defended plans to introduce end-to-end encryption, which is essential to user privacy.

In a statement in response to the Minister of Interior’s planned remarks, a company spokesman said:

“Full deployment to our messaging service is a long-term project and we have strong security measures in our plans.”

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