UK accuses Meta of empowering child sexual abusers with encryption rollout

Source: 12/7/23

Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta has been accused by the UK government of empowering child sexual abusers after the tech firm began rolling out the automatic encryption of all messages on its Facebook and Messenger platforms.

The home secretary, James Cleverly, described the move as a “significant step back” for child safety after Meta said it would introduce end-to-end encryption on the apps. The move means that only the sender and receiver of messages on the platforms will be able to access their content.

Cleverly said: “Law enforcement, charities and our close international partners all agree: these plans to roll out end-to-end encryption without appropriate safety measures will empower child sex abusers and hamper the ability of the police and NCA [National Crime Agency] to bring offenders to justice.”

The new features will be available immediately, but Meta said it would take some time for end-to-end encryption to be rolled out to more than 1bn users as a default option. Users will receive a prompt to set up a recovery method to restore their messages once the transition is completed. Calls will also be encrypted.

The government and child safety campaigners are concerned that end-to-end encryption will enable abusers to evade detection when grooming children and receiving and sending images of sexual abuse.

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Cleverly said: “Law enforcement, charities and our close international partners all agree: these plans to roll out end-to-end encryption without appropriate safety measures will empower child sex abusers and hamper the ability of the police and NCA [National Crime Agency] to bring offenders to justice.”

What they really mean is the power for the government to snoop on what is being said. God knows CSAM is beyond awful and I should know given that I’ve seen plenty of it in my time—indeed, the images are still in my head after fifteen years of being away from it and I’ll never be rid of them—but I’d rather live in a free society with the ability to shield one’s communication from the government or others who want to snoop on what’s being said than in an authoritarian one like in China where there is no real freedom. Having to endure CSAM is a small price to pay in my opinion.

Such statements are also quite disingenuous. Law enforcement can and does have ways of enforcing the law with regard to the production and trafficking of CSAM without imposing upon the civil rights of citizens. It just requires them to get more clever about it. Federal prisons are full of people that they catch with it and the FCI’s continue to fill with more perpetrators so no one in law enforcement can tell me that they can’t enforce the law in this area.

They aren’t worried about terrorists using the platform to plan a deadly attack on holiday shoppers, no concerns over human traffickers sneaking people into the UK, retail theft rings, etc. No, the attention grabbing headline they use to curry public support of continued domestic spying is that encrypted messages are dangerous to children. This, my friends, is the fox trying to convince the chickens that he should be in charge of their coup and any fence to keep him out is dangerous to their precious little chicks.

So hundreds of millions of people, that are in no way breaking any laws, should be left vulnerable to identity theft, and government surveillance of every kind, so that law enforcement can have a slightly better chance of catching someone who is up to something?

Why not just pass all internet data, upstream and down, through the NSA? Just a straight up KGB?

“evade detection”

Saying the quiet port out loud.