#Privacy: Facebook urged to suspend its encryption plan

The UK, US,  and Australia have signed an open letter calling for Facebook to suspend its plans to encrypt all messages on its platforms. 

Signed by UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, acting US Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan, and Australian Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton, the letter argues that the encryption plan would prevent law agencies from discovering illegal activity through Facebook. 

The letter reads: “Security enhancements to the virtual world should not make us more vulnerable in the physical world. 

“Companies should not deliberately design their systems to preclude any form of access to content, even for preventing or investigating the most serious crimes.”

The letter asks Facebook to design its encryption where governments have backdoor access to its encrypted messaging apps. 

Mr Zuckerberg stated that he had acknowledged the risks, especially the risks surrounding child exploitation before announcing the encryption plan. However, he added that he was “optimistic” that his company would be able to identify predators even with the encrypted systems.

The letter adds: “Tech companies like Facebook have a responsibility to balance privacy with the safety of the public.

“So far nothing we have seen from Facebook reassures me that their plans for end-to-end encryption will not act as barrier to the identification and pursuit of criminals operating on their platforms.

“Companies cannot operate with impunity where lives and the safety of our children is at stake, and if Mr Zuckerberg really has a credible plan to protect Facebook’s more than two billion users, it’s time he let us know what it is.”

Facebook have argued that everyone has the right to have a private conversation, and thus end-to-end encryption “protects that right for over a billion people every day,” said Will Cathart, Head of WhatsApp. 

According to leaked audio obtained by the Verge, Mr Zuckerberg stressed: “Law enforcement, obviously is not going to be psyched about that.

“But we think it’s the right thing to protect people’s privacy more, so we’ll go defend that when the time is right.”


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