UK government accuses Meta of endangering child safety with message encryption

Concerns are raised that the move may empower child sex abusers, hindering law enforcement efforts.

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The UK government criticized Meta for rolling out automatic encryption on Facebook and Messenger, labeling it a ‘significant step back’ for child safety.

The encryption, which limits access to message content to only the sender and receiver, is concerning for law enforcement and child safety advocates who fear it may aid child sex abusers in evading detection, hindering law enforcement efforts.

However, Meta defended its decision, highlighting the enhanced security provided by end-to-end encryption while asserting the implementation of robust safety measures, including restrictions preventing individuals over 19 years old from messaging teenagers who are not following them.

Why does it matter?

The Online Safety Act in the UK has ignited a heated discourse on encryption. It grants Ofcom the authority to compel messaging services to employ ‘accredited technology’ for identifying child sexual abuse material. This has triggered privacy concerns, prompting some apps to consider leaving the UK. The government attempted to address these worries, emphasizing that any content scanning intervention would only occur if it met stringent criteria for technical feasibility, privacy, and accuracy standards.