Experts Slam US, Australia and UK’s Facebook Encryption Demands
The governments of the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia are urging Facebook not to implement end-to-end encryption on its Instagram and Messenger services.
Earlier this year, the FTC slapped a $5bn fine on the social media giant over data protection and privacy issues that led to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which the personal data of millions of Facebook users were harvested without their consent. Following the fine, Facebook announced a major overhaul of its privacy and security practices. As part of this, the firm said it would start providing end-to-end encryption not just for WhatsApp conversations, but for Instagram and Messenger chats as well. This doesn’t sit well with Washington, London and Canberra. In an open letter, the three governments have told Facebook not to go ahead with the plan “without ensuring that there is no reduction to user safety and without including a means for lawful access to the content of communications to protect our citizens.” In other words, the countries are telling Facebook to make it possible for them to bypass the encryption mechanisms in the context of law enforcement investigations.
However, security experts state that government-mandated backdoors will inevitably undermine the security provided by the affected applications. According to Hannah Quay-de la Vallee of the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), “creating a law that would mandate weaker and less secure technology is like mandating crumbling sidewalks to prevent criminals from escaping. It’s ridiculous, it won’t work, and it puts us all at far greater risk of serious injury.”