UK calls on Meta not to roll out end-to-end encryption on Messenger, Instagram

UK calls on Meta not to roll out end-to-end encryption on Messenger, Instagram

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  • September 20, 2023
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United Kingdom called on Meta not to implement end-to-end encryption on Instagram and Facebook Messenger without adequate safety measures to protect children from sexual abuse, following the passage of the Online Safety Bill in the UK Parliament on September 19, reported Reuters.

Meta, which already uses encryption for WhatsApp messages, plans to introduce end-to-end encryption for Messenger and Instagram direct messages, citing technology re-enforced safety and security.

Also read: Meta is working on new AI model even more powerful than OpenAI’s GPT-4, says report

Britain’s Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, expressed support for strong encryption for online users but pointed out that it should not come at the expense of children’s safety. She said, “Meta has failed to provide assurances that they will keep their platforms safe from sickening abusers.” She added, “they must develop appropriate safeguards to sit alongside their plans for end-to-end encryption.”

A spokesperson from Meta stated that most Britons rely on encrypted apps to keep them safe from hackers, fraudsters and criminals. “We don’t think people want us reading their private messages so have spent the last five years developing robust safety measures to prevent, detect and combat abuse while maintaining online security,” the spokesperson said.

Also read: Meta removes thousands of Facebook accounts linked to Chinese influence campaign, says ‘biggest single takedown’

The spokesperson said they would update on the measures Meta was taking on September 19 , such as restricting people over 19 from messaging teens who do not follow them and using technology to identify and address malicious behaviour.

The Online Safety Bill will impose stricter requirements on social media platforms to protect children from harmful content. End-to-end encryption is a contentious issue in the new law, with messaging platforms led by WhatsApp opposing provisions they believe could compel them to break encryption. 

The government said that the bill doesn’t ban encryption but requires companies to take steps to combat child abuse and develop technology to scan encrypted messages as a last resort. While tech companies argue that message scanning and end-to-end encryption are fundamentally incompatible.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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Updated: 20 Sep 2023, 11:23 AM IST

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