The UK’s child protection charity has accused Facebook of “actively choosing to give offenders a place to hide in the shadows” by seeking to encrypt its direct messenger programmes. But Facebook says encryption is necessary to protect privacy and security.
The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) is warning that “child sex abuse will go undetected”, if Facebook starts encrypting its messenger programmes.
On 5 December 2019 the UK-based charity said that information it had obtained from 32 police departments, “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 NSPCC argued that adding encryption to direct messenger programmes without “putting clear safeguards” will mean that abuse will no longer be able to be identified and reported to the police.
A spokesperson for Facebook responded to the NSPCC statement by saying:
In March 2019 Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced plans to start encrypting messenger programmes.
Zuckerberg added that political dissidents had told him that they are only “free, or even alive” due to encryption.