Facebook in Dilemma on End-to-End Encryption

The Incident

Facebook decided in March 2019 to make end-to-end encryption the necessary security level for Facebook chat encryption (just like Whatsapp) to safeguard the interest and privacy of users. However, shareholders are opposing the firm’s decision as they feel that the facebook end to end encryption will hinder criminal investigations.

The shareholders argue that having Facebook encryption messenger as a default security option would make detecting child exploitation on Facebook impossible. Because of the current situation, the meeting of Facebook’s board of directors shall be held online, and the firm’s role in the battle against online child exploitation is dependent on the verdict of its stakeholders.

Threat Source of facebook end to end encryption

Facebook news articles report that the threat to Facebook encryption comes from this group of shareholders and nations like the U.S, the U.K and Australia. They feel that having Facebook conversations encrypted would make it difficult for them to trace any crimes committed over Facebook. While it is true that Facebook leads the battle against child exploitation on the internet, yet Facebook’s founder and chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg finds himself in a profound dilemma on whether to choose privacy or public security. The ones against the E2E encryption of Facebook want Facebook to defer its decision until the board unanimously decides on the next course of action.

How Did It Happen?

  • While neither of the opposing schools of thought is wrong, their conflict is delaying the progress of end-to-end encryption for Facebook.
  • Michael Passoff –the founder of Proxy Impact, opines that Facebook’s concern for privacy is valid, considering the massive number of users who entrust it with their online security. However, this security measure of having Facebook encrypted messages should not come at the cost of exploring Facebook features for detecting online child sexual abuse.
  • What makes the plea of the shareholders stronger is the fact that about 85% of the 70 million videos and pictures of sexual exploitation of children reported in 2019 came from Facebook.
  • Whereas, Facebook’s take on this is quite different: it believes that expanding end-to-end encryption as a way of protecting the private messages of its users from hackers shall not come in the course of its battle against child predators.
  • A majority of Facebook’s voting shares are regulated by its CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and a few other executives. And though the final decision is dependent on the combined judgment of all shareholders, it is unlikely that the measure shall be passed.
  • Facebook news has revolved around E2E Encryption since March 2019, but the slow progress has made many of its engineers sceptical about the actual implementation of end to end encryption.

The Impact of facebook end to end encryption

The end to end encryption would disable third parties (including Facebook) from accessing the messages (texts, audios and videos) shared between two people, that is, the sender and receiver, thereby, protecting the privacy of Facebook users. But on the downside, executing this E2E encryption plan would leave 70% of the cases of child abuse unreported. On the one hand, there is the security of millions of Facebook users, and on the other is the innocent childhood of kids that the cybercriminals exploit.

Final Words

Facebook has angered its users in the past because it violated privacy policies, and once again, the firm is at crossroads of privacy and public security.

Facebook news latest updates show that the company’s reputation stands at risk, but Zuckerberg is optimistic that they’ll soon find an alternative to identify and penalize child predators.


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