Facebook must go ahead with its plans to encrypt all services, despite government demands

New York News broke today that authorities in the U.K., U.S., and Australia are calling on Facebook to delay plans to implement end-to-end encryption across its messaging services.

“The U.K., United States, and Australian authorities are once again falling into a false dichotomy between security and encryption,” said Guillermo Beltra, Policy Director of Access Now. “The reality is that encryption is an essential technology that strengthens the security of the internet’s infrastructure and enables users to enjoy their civil and political rights and express themselves freely.”

“Strong encryption remains the last line of defense against unlawful access to our data, and protects all users from identity theft, scams, and fraud,” stated Peter Micek, General Counsel of Access Now. “Whether from malicious hackers, malign governments, or unscrupulous engineers, the threats to our human rights multiply while the safeguards against misuse, abuse, and breach erode daily.”

In an open letter to Facebook, officials from the three governments call attention to “illegal content and activity” online, including “child sexual exploitation and abuse, terrorism, and foreign adversaries’ attempts to undermine democratic values and institutions.” They exhort Facebook not to impede law enforcement capabilities, which they predict would result if Facebook goes ahead with its plan to implement encryption across its messaging services.  

“Both Facebook and law enforcement already enjoy robust tools to uncover and pursue perpetrators of illegal activities,” said Micek. “Weakening encryption only puts innocent lives at risk. Survivors of sexual abuse and exploitation need more protection for the privacy and security of their personal data and accounts – not less. Human rights defenders also rely on the protection encryption provides as they speak up against abuses by governments and other actors. Lives are at risk when security fails and data leaks, so we support Facebook and other platforms in implementing robust and seamless encryption across their services and the global internet.”