Law enforcement agencies ask tech companies to prioritise child safety over E2EE

End-to-end encryption (E2EE) would degrade safety systems and weaken the ability to keep children safe, the agencies argue.

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The Virtual World Task Force, a coalition of 15 law enforcement, industry and NGO partners focusing on preventing child sexual abuse, issued a joint statement urging tech companies to uphold their responsibility to protect children on their platforms and to adopt key platform design decisions and robust security systems that protect children from online sexual abuse.

‘The VGT encourages industry to respond and consider the following:
Only to implement platform design choices, including E2EE, at scale alongside robust safety systems that maintain or increase child safety.
Where the child user base and risk is high, a proportionate investment and implementation of technically feasible safety solutions is paramount.’

The task force stressed that end-to-end encryption (E2EE) can have a devastating impact on the ability to identify sexual predators online and to protect children from sexual abuse.

The case of David Wilson, who used the Facebook message to exploit 52 children and is now jailed, was used as an argument against an E2EE environment. The successful prosecution of Wilson was possible because law enforcement was able to access the evidence contained within over 250,000 messages through Facebook, the statement notes, which would not be possible in an E2EE environment.

Meta, Facebook’s parent company, has stated that it remains committed to its encryption plan.