Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, announced plans to postpone the rollout of Facebook and Instagram messages' default end-to-end encryption (E2EE) until 2023 over criticism from child safety organizations, The Guardian reported. WhatsApp has been supporting the end-to-end encryption feature since 2016.
The company decided to postpone the encryption of messages after the child safety campaigners expressed concerns that E2EE would help cybercriminals and child abuse go unnoticed on the social media platforms.
The introduction of the E2EE technology could lead to problems with the authorities, at least in the UK. In 2023, a new law in the UK will enter into force. According to this law, tech giants will be obliged to protect children against violence and dangerous content on their platforms.
The UK's National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) said private messages on social media platforms are “the frontline of child sexual abuse online” because end-to-end encryption prevents tech companies and law enforcement officials from having access to messages. The E2EE technology itself implies that the messages can only be seen by the sender and recipient.
Previously, Meta said that end-to-end encryption would not be available until 2022. Now its implementation has been postponed for another year. Meta's head of safety, Antigone Davis, said the company wants to “get this right” and develop a proper plan to protect children's safety on their platform. Once the default E2EE is available, Meta will help detect criminal activity through non-encrypted data, account information, and user reports.