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.
“Instead of working to protect children and make the online world they live in safer, Facebook is actively choosing to give offenders a place to hide in the shadows and risks making itself a one stop grooming shop,” Andy Burrows, the NSPCC’s Head of Child Safety Online Policy, said.
A spokesperson for Facebook responded to the NSPCC statement by saying:
“There is no place for grooming or child exploitation on our platforms. We use technology to proactively remove it and are developing further ways to detect patterns of harmful behaviour in order to ban and report those responsible. We work closely with child protection authorities in the UK, and we’re consulting with experts on the best ways to implement safety measures before fully implementing end-to-end encryption.”
In March 2019 Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced plans to start encrypting messenger programmes.
“People expect their private communications to be secure and to only be seen by the people they’ve sent them to – not hackers, criminals, over-reaching governments, or even the people operating the services they’re using,” he wrote.
Zuckerberg added that political dissidents had told him that they are only “free, or even alive” due to encryption.
Sputnik / Natalia Seliverstova
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