Facebook Delays its Plans to Get Default End-to-End Encryption to Address Safety Concerns

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Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, is not planning to roll out End-to-End encryption on Messenger and Instagram by default until 2023, first reported by The Guardian. 

Last year, the company merged Instagram chats with Messenger as it plans to unify messaging ecosystem across platforms.

While messages sent through Messenger and Instagram can be E2EE, that option isn’t turned on by default. WhatsApp already offers and supports E2EE by default.

In a post in The Telegraph, Meta’s head of safety, Antigone Davis, attributes the delay to concerns about user safety. Since E2EE allows only the sender and receiver to view conversations, Meta is concerned that this will interfere with its ability to help stop criminal activity. 

Davis notes that once available by default, the company will “use a combination of non-encrypted data across our apps, account information and reports from users” to help keep them safe while “assisting public safety efforts.” 

Earlier this year, in a blog post, the company said that E2EE by default would be available on Messenger and Instagram “sometime in 2022 at the earliest.” However, now, Davis says that the company is delaying on their plans as they want to “get this right,” the feature’s debut until 2023. 

According to the UK’s Online Safety bill, going into effect by 2023, online platforms are required to keep children from harm and address abusive content.  

Priti Patel, the UK’s Home Secretary, has criticized E2EE use in the past as this might hinder Facebook’s plans to enable E2EE by default.  

In a report from BBC, Patel states: “Sadly, at a time when we need to be taking more action… Facebook is still pursuing E2EE plans that place the good work and the progress that has already been made at jeopardy.” 

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