Priti Patel blasts Facebook over message encryption plan

Priti Patel accuses Facebook of ‘tying its own blindfold’ over child sexual abuse with plan to encrypt messages so law-enforcement cannot see them, warning it could see information on up to 12 MILLION cases being lost

  • She lashed out at social media giant’s plan to introduce end-to-end encryption 
  • Minister said that Facebook’s justifications for the change were ‘overblown’
  • Zuckerberg said there had to be balance between privacy and protection

Priti Patel Blasted Facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg today over his plans to block police around the world from begin able to access Facebook messages, saying they would allow child sex crimes and terrorism to go unchecked.

The Home Secretary lashed out at the social media giant’s intention to introduce end-to-end encryption in a bid to combat hacking and misuse by rogue states.

Ms Patel said that Facebook’s justifications for the change were ‘overblown’.

Writing in the Sun on Sunday she said: ‘Facebook should be proud of its efforts to root out this evil. 

‘Yet instead it plans to tie its own blindfold by removing its ability to find the worst criminal content. 

‘This could lead to as many as 12million reports of child sexual abuse material a year being lost.’

The Home Secretary lashed out at the social media giant’s intention to introduce end-to-end encryption in a bid to combat hacking and misuse by rogue states.

In a 2019 blog post Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said there was a balance to be found between privacy from end-to-end encryption and protecting people.

In 2019 there were nearly 17 million reports of child sexual abuse material online and almost 94 per cent came from Facebook, according to shareholder activists who attempted to derail the encryption plan last year. 

End-to-end encryption would mean only the sender and recipient of a message on the Messenger app could read or modify what has been sent in a conversation. 

In a 2019 blog post Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said there was a balance to be found between privacy from end-to-end encryption and protecting people.

‘On balance, I believe working towards implementing end-to-end encryption for all private communications is the right thing to do,’ he wrote in 2019.

But Ms Patel today cast doubt on Facebook’s arguments.

‘We all have a duty to protect our children — to do all we can to stop this horrific abuse that leaves deep and visceral scars that last well into adulthood,’ she wrote.

‘But Facebook now wants to turn a blind eye. It claims this is about privacy, and that end-to-end encryption is needed to protect against hackers and repressive foreign powers. 

‘But our world-leading technical experts are clear that those arguments are overblown. And that the strong encryption already in place protects privacy without eroding the safety of our citizens and destroying the lives of children.  

This is a gamble with the safety of millions of people that Facebook does not need to take.’

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