Global encryption day 2023

Children are no exception: Nevada must ensure end-to-end encryption for all

Access to end-to-end encryption is essential for everyone, including children, to stay safe online. On March 11, 2024, Access Now joined an amicus brief led by the American Civil Liberties Union, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Riana Pfefferkorn, a research scholar, urging the U.S. District Court to reject Nevada’s request for a court order to prevent Meta from offering end-to-end encryption on Facebook Messenger for people under 18 who use the service. Denying children access to encryption, a powerful safeguard against indiscriminate scraping of personal communications data that can be used to cause harm, is an attack on the security of children online. 

Nevada’s attempt to deny children using Facebook Messenger access to end-to-end encryption, thereby depriving them of safe spaces online, is both misguided and dangerous. To eliminate encryption is to eliminate online safety for all, including children who rely on it for secure communication with loved ones, exchanging information, seeking safety, obtaining education and healthcare, and much more. Namrata Maheshwari, Senior Policy Counsel and Encryption Policy Lead at Access Now

The amicus brief also outlines how encryption is an important safeguard against rampant surveillance by the private sector, governments, and other actors. Default end-to-end encryption has helped protect human rights for years on messaging services such as Signal, WhatsApp, and iMessage — the internet needs more of it, not less. 

Encryption facilitates a spectrum of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the rights to privacy, free expression, access to information, and freedom of assembly. Children, too, are entitled to the exercise of these rights, freely and safely, when using services like Facebook Messenger. By depriving them of strong encryption, an essential tool for online safety, Nevada would push young people into a far more vulnerable position. Peter Micek, General Counsel at Access Now

Access Now, along with the lead drafters, and other amici, including Internet Society, Center for Democracy and Technology, Mozilla, Signal, and Fight for the Future, urge the court to reject the state’s motion and set a strong precedent recognizing the importance of encryption for privacy and security for all.