An open letter to Facebook, signed by authorities in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia, asks the social network not to proceed with plans to deploy end-to-end encryption in all company applications. The fear is that making messages completely private could cause “public security risks”.
Facebook, which is at the center of privacy controversies, announced in March that it would integrate WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger, starting to develop applications based on points such as encryption, secure data storage and private interactions.
However, the attorney general of the United States, Bill Barr; United States Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan; Australia’s Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton; and the UK’s Secretary of State for Internal Affairs, Priti Patel, call on Facebook to “not implement the changes” until “security” requirements are met.
Specifically, the authorities want Facebook to obey three points:
- Develop systems in such a way that Facebook itself “continues to act against illegal content effectively, without prejudice to security, and facilitating the prosecution of violators and protection of victims”;
- Allow “law enforcement to obtain legal access to content in a readable and usable format”;
- Engage with governments to facilitate this “in a substantial way and that really influences their design decisions”.
If Facebook does not respond to requests from governments, which would be “critical to protecting children and fighting terrorism,” about 70% of the complaints sent to Facebook, equivalent to 12 million global reports, would be lost, according to the authorities. They say they support strong encryption systems, but not in a way that “prevents any form of access to content”.
In a note, Facebook says that end-to-end encryption already protects messages from more than 1 billion users every day. “We are strongly opposed to the government’s attempts to develop backdoors because they would undermine the privacy and security of people everywhere,” says spokesman Andy Stone.
It is not the first time that Facebook has been under pressure from governments to break end-to-end encryption of applications. In Brazil, a proposal by the CNJ (National Council of Justice) calls for “means of access and breach of confidentiality for exchanging messages from members of criminal organizations over the internet, social networks or messaging applications, including the possibility of infiltration by police officers ”.
US and UK sign data sharing agreement
On Friday (4), the United States and the United Kingdom also announced that they have closed an information sharing agreement. The bilateral agreement could “drastically streamline investigations, removing legal barriers to the effective and timely collection of electronic evidence”.
“The deal will accelerate dozens of complex investigations into suspected terrorists and pedophilia, like Matthew Falder, who was convicted in 2018 in the UK for 137 crimes after eight years engaging in child sexual abuse, blackmail, forced labor and sharing obscene images online , which reinforced the need to accelerate these investigations, ”says the United States Department of Justice.