Meta Delayed Instagram and Facebook Encryption Plans Until 2023
The Firm Is Determined to Provide Protection to The Private Communication of People and Keep Them Safe in The Online Community
Previously made plans regarding the rollout of the end-to-end encryption plans by Meta on both their social media platforms Instagram and Facebook, have now been delayed for the time being amid a case over the safety of children. The parent company of Facebook, which has recently received a major rebranding and is now called Meta, stated that the encryption on messages on the applications would now be implemented in the year 2023.
The process of end-to-end encryption means that only the individual that has sent the message and the receiver on the other side of the conversation, although it would not be accessible by any law enforcement agency or Meta itself. However, the groups for child safety and protection, along with politicians, have given the warning that the encryption plans by Meta could possibly hamper the investigations opened by the police on child abuse.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has publicly claimed that the messages that are private provide a front line in the sexual abuse of children, which would further aggravate the issue due to the introduction of encryption plans by Meta. The Home Secretary of the United Kingdom, Priti Patel, has also made criticized comments on the technological advancements and said that in the early time period of this year, the encryption plans by Meta could have a severe impact on the law enforcement workings in the pursuit of activities done by criminals, which also includes child abuse done online.
Protection vs. Privacy
The end-to-end encryption works as it scrambles or encrypts the data while it is traveling between the users on to their devices. The only way through which the message can be easily read is to gain access physically to the device that is unlocked that has either received or sent the message. This type of encrypted technology is usually made a default option for the most used messaging service WhatsApp, which is also under the ownership of Meta, although the encryption plans by Meta have been made regarding Instagram and Facebook, which are to be implemented in the year 2023.
The NSPCC has sent the request of Freedom of Information to 46 different police forces across the regions of England, Scotland and Whales and has asked them regarding a complete breakdown of the social media platforms that are being used across the world to commit offenses of sexual nature against children in the previous year.
The responses that have been received had revealed that more than 9,500 instances involving images of sex abuse against children along with online sex offenses of underage children had been reported to law enforcement. And 52% of the total number have taken place on applications that are under the ownership of Meta. It has further been added that one-third of the abuse cases have been reported to have occurred on Instagram, while 13% on Messenger and Facebook, while only a few have been reported to have occurred on WhatsApp.
These reported cases have caused a wave of fear regarding the expansion of encryption plans by Meta towards the widely used social media platforms of Facebook and Instagram, as the option of direct messages would be able to shield a major number of online abusers from getting detected on time.
Delay in planned encryption
It has been said by the NSPCC that message encryption as a default option would provide an easier means to further spread imagery of child abuse or online grooming. Although, it has been said by the advocates that the encryption would only be able to protect the privacy of the user, along with giving protection from prying by both the government and any unscrupulous hacking party.
The chief executive officer of Meta, Mark Zuckerberg, had given the argument himself at the time when he made the public announcement regarding the encryption plans by Meta, at that time called Facebook, in the year 2019.
According to the global head of security at Meta, Antigone Davis said that the encryption plans by Meta have been delayed till 2023 to prevent any kind of possible issue that could occur, as the firm is trying to get the process right. The company had said previously that the changes regarding encryption implementation are to happen in the year 2022 if it is possible.