Facebook has delayed the rollout of encrypted messaging amid fears that such a move could put children at greater risk of exploitation and abuse.
Meta, which owns the social networking giant as well as messaging service WhatsApp, said it was taking time to “get it right” and pledged to work to strike a balance between privacy and security online.
The company previously said it was targeting to roll out encrypted messaging to its Messenger and Instagram apps in a phased manner in 2022, but has now said it won’t be completed until 2023.
End-to-end encryption hides messages from everyone except those involved in the conversation, and has previously warned that it threatens the safety of children online.
Antigone Davis, the boss of safety at Meta, said it would continue to work with experts to tackle the abuse, but stressed that in previous cases the firm was still in a position to help authorities even though the services were encrypted.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, she said: “Our recent review of some historical cases has shown that we will still be able to provide important information to authorities, even if those services are encrypted end-to-end.
“While no system is perfect, it shows that we can continue to deter criminals and support law enforcement.
“We will continue to engage with outside experts and develop effective solutions to combat abuse as our work in this area has never been completed. We are taking our time to get this right and by sometime in 2023 We do not plan to end the global rollout of end-to-end encryption by default across all of our messaging services.
The social network’s second messaging platform WhatsApp is already fully encrypted.
Last year, the then Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, said that social media firms’ plans for more encryption in messaging services would put children at greater risk, making it impossible for the platform to monitor content and requiring police to The collection of potentially significant evidence of child sex would be prevented. Exploitation.
Facebook’s plans for encryption have been criticized by the government in the past, with Home Secretary Priti Patel warning that it puts children at risk and provides a hiding place for abusers and other criminals.
Ms Davis said the firm is “determined to protect people’s private communications and keep people safe online”, but added that “people should not have to choose between privacy and security”.
She added that the firm is “building strong security measures into our plans and engaging with privacy and security experts, civil society and governments to ensure we get these rights”.
The company laid out its “three-pronged approach,” which it says includes preventing harm, giving people more control, and responding quickly when something happens.
It comes a day after the head of Ofcom reportedly asked social media companies to face sanctions if they don’t stop adults from sending messages directly to children.
The communications watchdog will regulate the sector under the Online Harm Bill and has the power to fine companies and block access to sites.
The Times reported that Dame Melanie Dawes will encourage regulators to closely examine Direct Messages when new rules are introduced in 2023.
Speaking about the industry and the bill, Dame Melanie said: “I don’t think it’s sustainable for them to be like we are. Something has to change.
“The regulation it provides is a way to have consistency across the industry, to convince users that they are doing things right, and to prevent what could be a real erosion of public trust.
“They really need to convince us that they understand who is actually using their platform, and that they are designing for the reality of their users, not just the older age group who They say they have their terms and conditions.”
In her piece written before Dame Melanie’s comments, Ms Davis said Facebook is protecting under-18s on its site, including defaulting them to private or “friends only” accounts and prohibiting adults from messaging them. There are ways to do this if they are not already connected.
Proposals for the Online Damage Bill include penalties for non-compliant firms such as large fines of up to £18 million or 10% of their global turnover – whichever is greater.
In August, Instagram announced that it would require all users to provide their date of birth, while Google introduced privacy changes for children using its search engine and YouTube platform.
TikTok has also begun limiting the direct messaging capabilities of accounts for 16- and 17-year-olds, as well as advising parents and caregivers on how to support teens when signing up.
Andy Burroughs, head of child protection online policy at the NSPCC, said: “Facebook is not right to move forward with end-to-end encryption unless it has a proper plan in place to prevent child abuse on its platform. Measures should only be proceeded with if they can demonstrate that they have technology in place that will ensure that children are not at great risk of abuse.
“After more than 18 months the NSPCC-led global coalition of 130 child protection organizations raised alarm over the danger of end-to-end encryption. Facebook must now show they are serious about child safety risks and not just playing for. They live in difficult headlines. ,
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /