Home Articles Why NSPCC Wants Facebook to Stop Encryption

Why NSPCC Wants Facebook to Stop Encryption

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More than 100 organisations led by various child safety groups wants Facebook to halt encryption. Read on to know more…

More than 100 organisations led by various child safety groups wants Facebook to halt strong encryption of all its platforms, saying that would allow predators to operate freely. National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) wants Facebook to address the issue of child safety. Currently, Facebook is working to extend end-to-end encryption across its messaging applications, including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Instagram.

According to the NSPCC, Police recorded over 4,000 instances where Facebook apps were used in child abuse image and online child sexual offences last year. “Data obtained from responses to a Freedom of Information request by 32 UK police forces showed Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp were used in child abuse image and online child sexual offences last year — an average of 11 times a day,” the child rights organisation revealed in December last year.

Open Letter
The child safety groups said they were concerned that stronger encryption of online exchanges would encourage the sharing of child pornography. “We urge you to recognize and accept that an increased risk of child abuse being facilitated on or by Facebook is not a reasonable trade-off to make,” the groups led by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children said in an open letter to Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The letter mentioned that “Children should not be put in harm’s way either as a result of commercial decisions or design choices.” The open letter, requested Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to stop its plans until “sufficient safeguards” are in place.

Mixed Response
On one side the Rights groups have applauded Facebook’s move to stronger encryption; but the governments of countries such as the United States, Britain and Australia have called on the social network to allow authorities to circumvent encryption to better fight extremism, child pornography and other crimes. The child protection groups said they recognized users have a legitimate interest in ensuring their data is protected. Facebook has always said that strong encryption is important to keep users safe from online criminals and hackers.

“However, as you yourself have stated, Facebook has a responsibility to work with law enforcement and to prevent the use of your sites and services for sexual abuse,” the child safety group’s open letter to Zuckerberg said.

Privacy Issues
Facebook already encrypts WhatsApp exchanges from end to end — meaning only the sender and recipient can read the messages. “Strong encryption is critically important to keep everyone safe from hackers and criminals,” said David Miles, Facebook’s head of safety for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

The Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said last year he is working to make his social networking platform “privacy-focused” like WhatsApp. Admitting that people want private, encrypted services, he said Facebook will become like the mobile messaging platform WhatsApp which is more secure with end-to-end encryption. Zuckerberg said he is focused on making WhatsApp and Instagram faster, simpler, more private and more secure, including with end-to-end encryption.

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