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UK kicks against Meta data encryption plans

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UK kicks against Meta data encryption plans



Britain has called upon Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, to exercise caution before implementing end-to-end encryption on its Messenger and Instagram platforms.

The call for restraint comes after the UK’s parliament passed the Online Safety Bill, which seeks to bolster online safety and security, especially for children.

Meta, which already deploys end-to-end encryption on WhatsApp, intends to extend this feature to its Messenger and Instagram direct messaging services, emphasizing its commitment to enhancing user safety and privacy.

However, the UK’s Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, expressed concerns about the potential risks to child safety. She stated, “Meta has failed to provide assurances that they will keep their platforms safe from sickening abusers. They must develop appropriate safeguards to sit alongside their plans for end-to-end encryption.”

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In response, a Meta spokesperson defended the company’s approach, saying, “The overwhelming majority of Brits already rely on apps that use encryption to keep them safe from hackers, fraudsters, and criminals”

“We don’t think people want us reading their private messages, so we have spent the last five years developing robust safety measures to prevent, detect, and combat abuse while maintaining online security.”

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Meta plans to unveil additional safety measures, including restricting communication between adults and teenagers who do not follow each other and using technology to identify and address malicious behavior.

The spokesperson added, “As we roll out end-to-end encryption, we expect to continue providing more reports to law enforcement than our peers due to our industry-leading work on keeping people safe.”

The Online Safety Bill, which recently passed parliament, places stricter requirements on social media platforms to protect children from accessing harmful content. One contentious aspect of the law is the issue of end-to-end encryption.

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Some messaging apps, like WhatsApp, don’t like this law because they think it might make them stop using end-to-end encryption.

The government, on the other hand, asserts that the bill does not ban the technology but rather requires companies to take measures to prevent child abuse and develop technology to scan encrypted messages as a last resort.

Tech companies say it’s hard to do both encryption and checking messages at the same time.

Suella Braverman’s campaign against Meta’s encryption plans has garnered support from various quarters, including technology experts, law enforcement agencies, survivors, and child safety organizations.

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