NSPCC and others protest against Facebook's message encryption plans

Josh Peachey's picture
by Josh Peachey

The NSPCC, along with 100 other organisations, have signed an open letter arguing against Facebook's plan to encrypt messages on two of its platforms.

Plans to encrypt messages on Facebook Messenger and Instagram Direct have raised concerns for child safety from protest groups. 

Critics of the social network's plans say that encryption should not be rolled out until there are “sufficient safeguards” in place. 

Similar encryption is active on WhatsApp, which means the app’s owner, Facebook, cannot see the content of messages.

The letter of objection states: “At a time when we could be looking to build upon years of sophisticated initiatives, Facebook instead seems inclined to blindfold itself.

“We urge you to recognise and accept that an increased risk of child abuse being facilitated on or by Facebook is not a reasonable trade-off to make.”

Facebook responded by saying that it works with child-safety experts to keep young people safe online, including the US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).

The BBC reported that Facebook made 16.8 million reports of child sexual exploitation and abuse content in 2018.

NCMEC estimates that end-to-end encryption on Facebook Messenger and Instagram could result in around 70% of these child abuse reports being lost.