New UK Government Urges Meta To Implement Safety Measures For Messenger And Instagram


The UK government is increasing pressure on Meta (formerly known as Facebook) to implement safety measures before rolling out end-to-end encryption (E2EE) on Messenger and Instagram. The Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, claims that the majority of online child sexual abuse activity that UK law enforcement detects occurs on these platforms and argues that E2EE without safety measures would disable law enforcement from accessing and detecting this criminal activity. Meta had previously announced plans to implement E2EE on all its apps by the end of 2023.

Key Takeaway

The UK government is pressuring Meta to implement safety measures before rolling out end-to-end encryption on Messenger and Instagram. Privacy experts argue that client-side scanning compromises user privacy, and securing platforms without breaching encryption is not technologically feasible. The outcome of this ongoing debate will have wider implications for E2EE and the balance between user privacy and security.

Pushback from Experts

Privacy and security experts have long warned about the risks of surveillance powers undermining E2EE. The government’s request for safety measures has raised concerns that it could lead to client-side scanning of encrypted content, compromising the privacy and security of millions of web users. Experts argue that such scanning technologies do not exist without breaching privacy rights and that they can be exploited for monitoring personal communications beyond the intended purpose.

Possible Scenarios

There are two possible scenarios that may unfold. One is that Meta, under the threat of significant financial penalties, is forced to implement client-side scanning. However, this scenario seems unlikely given Meta’s strong opposition and the reputational damage that would come from complying. The second scenario is that the government’s demands lead to a compromise where platforms implement other safety measures instead of scanning. These measures could include enhanced reporting tools, age verification, and educational initiatives to ensure user safety.

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