Security Minister Tom Tugendhat criticized Meta CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, for deploying end-to-end encryption (E2EE) in Facebook messages, an action he deemed an “extraordinary moral choice“. Tugendhat accused Meta of allowing child abusers to function without repercussions due to the privacy this technology offers.
Tugendhat announced a government advertising campaign to inform parents about the implications of Meta’s choices for their children’s safety. The aim is to urge technology companies to take responsibility and act appropriately. However, details about this campaign have not been revealed by the Home Office.
Meta defended its use of encryption, arguing that the majority of British people rely on such technology for protection against cyber threats. The company stated that they remove and report numerous abusive images every month. Despite using E2EE, their owned platform, WhatsApp, has made over a million reports in a year.
The Online Safety Bill being debated in Parliament may give Ofcom the authority to direct platforms to use technology that scans message content. Critics, including former National Cyber Security Centre head Ciaran Martin, argue that such measures essentially build a door into devices, potentially risking misuse. This concern was highlighted when Apple abandoned a similar approach after facing backlash.