Expert Comments On Encrypted Messaging Puts Children At Risk, Commissioner Warns

Encryption of online messages could make it harder to police child abuse and grooming online, the children’s commissioner for England has warned. End-to-end encryption is a privacy feature that makes it impossible for anyone except the sender and recipient to read messages sent online. Commissioner Anne Longfield said it also prevented police from gathering evidence to prosecute child abusers. But digital rights groups see it as an essential part of online privacy. Facebook, which is behind the most popular messaging apps children use, already offers end-to-end encryption for Whatsapp. It has added an opt-in version to its Messenger service, with plans to make it the default for all its platforms. That could include Instagram, which does not yet have it. 

More information: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-55222499

Experts Comments

December 09, 2020
Chris Hauk
Consumer Privacy Champion
Pixel Privacy
Government and law enforcement officials have long claimed that end-to-end encryption prevents them from defending against terrorism, solving crimes, and protecting the children. While their claims do have some merit, doing away with encryption or providing a backdoor for officials to access messaging systems is a slippery slope. Doing away with encryption leaves a user's personal communications open to monitoring by anyone that has the ability to do so. Meanwhile, any backdoor offered for.....Read More
Government and law enforcement officials have long claimed that end-to-end encryption prevents them from defending against terrorism, solving crimes, and protecting the children. While their claims do have some merit, doing away with encryption or providing a backdoor for officials to access messaging systems is a slippery slope. Doing away with encryption leaves a user's personal communications open to monitoring by anyone that has the ability to do so. Meanwhile, any backdoor offered for use by the "good guys" could also be used by the bad actors of the world to access users' information and messages. It is up to parents to properly monitor their child's online activities. I can also see the merit of not allowing children under a certain age to access private messaging apps and services, or even social platforms like Facebook and Instagram.  Read Less
December 09, 2020
Paul Bischoff
Privacy Advocate
Comparitech
Child pornography is frequently used as an argument to shut down and shame supporters of end-to-end encryption. Yes, end-to-end encryption can prevent law enforcement from scanning or accessing child abuse images sent and received between users. But banning end-to-end encryption or creating backdoors will have much broader negative consequences for cybersecurity and individual privacy. And it won't do much to stop the distribution of child porn. Banning end-to-end encryption to stop child.....Read More
Child pornography is frequently used as an argument to shut down and shame supporters of end-to-end encryption. Yes, end-to-end encryption can prevent law enforcement from scanning or accessing child abuse images sent and received between users. But banning end-to-end encryption or creating backdoors will have much broader negative consequences for cybersecurity and individual privacy. And it won't do much to stop the distribution of child porn. Banning end-to-end encryption to stop child pornography is like banning safes because they can be used to hide drugs. Breaking end-to-end encryption gives governments the power to access anyone's private communication by forcing tech companies to allow law enforcement access. In the hands of a corrupt regime, such access could be extremely dangerous. Breaking E2EE also creates more opportunities for malicious hackers to steal our messages. Furthermore, banning end-to-end encryption is not really feasible. End-to-end encryption is not some sophisticated feat of genius only available to billion-dollar tech companies. The tools needed to set up end-to-end encryption are free and open-source, so a government regulation will not magically make all end-to-end encrypted apps and services disappear. E2EE will still be easily available to those who want it, while everyone else just ends up with less privacy and worse security.  Read Less

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