The United States, the United Kingdom and Australia are reportedly requesting Facebook to design encryption on its chat platform so that authorities can access communications. Facebook should no longer introduce end-to-end encryption.
In an open letter, seen by Buzzfeed News and dated Oct. 4, the countries ask Facebook not to pursue plans to integrate end-to-end encryption into a universal chat platform behind Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp “without guarantees.” that there is no decrease in user safety’. By the latter, the countries mean physical security: “Security improvements in the virtual world should not make us more vulnerable in the physical world”.
The US, UK and Australia argue that companies should not design their systems in such a way that content cannot be accessed. According to the authors, the combination of protected messaging and open profiles opens the way for malicious parties to target children. Companies should therefore design encryption so that authorities can access illegal content, and they should consult with governments to ensure that changes allow this access.
WhatsApp has supported end-to-end encryption since 2016. This means that the service encrypts messages on the user’s smartphone, sends it encrypted over the internet and unencrypts it on the recipient’s device. With proper implementation, the messages cannot be viewed during the sending process, not even on WhatsApp’s servers. Facebook wants to use encryption more widely in its services. Authorities of several countries have been complaining for some time that a large part of online communication has become inaccessible to intelligence services.