UK Home Secretary Priti Patel will speak at a program organized by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) and warn against Facebook’s plans to introduce encryption on its messaging services. Patel warns Facebook’s plans for encryption to protect user privacy could jeopardize ongoing work to tackle child abuse.
In her speech, the Home Secretary is expected to call for Facebook to be more considerate of public safety when making changes to its platform, including the impact on children.
While messaging platforms are not end-to-end encrypted, tech giants like Facebook can use automatic scanning of their users posts to identify the sharing of known child abuse images and expose questionable use of private messages.
Only one of Facebook’s major messaging platforms, WhatsApp, uses end-to-end encryption by default. However, the company plans to extend the feature on its other platforms, such as Facebook Messenger and Instagram.
The NSPCC worries that introducing encryption as planned would render scanning tools used to detect offenders “useless” and is calling on Facebook to reconsider its stance.
Patel states that “Offending is continuing, and will continue – these images of children being abused just continue to proliferate, even right now while we are speaking. But the company intends to blind itself to this problem through end-to-end encryption which prevents all access to messaging content.”
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