An alliance of the world’s most powerful law enforcement agencies including the FBI, Interpol and Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA) have condemned Meta’s plans to encrypt direct messages on Facebook Messenger and Instagram, saying that doing so will weaken the ability to keep child users safe.
The Virtual Global Taskforce, made up of 15 agencies, is chaired by the NCA and also includes Europol and the Australian federal police among its membership. The VGT has spoken out, it says, owing to the “impending design choices” by Meta, which it says could cause serious harm.
The decision to encrypt direct messages on the platforms, which would prevent anyone other than the intended recipient being able to intercept the communications, “is an example of a purposeful design choice that degrades safety systems and weakens the ability to keep child users safe”, the alliance said.
The VGT praised Meta’s work with the American National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), which acts as a clearing house for reports on online child sexual abuse.
Meta reported more such cases to the NCMEC than any other provider, the alliance said, but it feared that lead would disappear once the messages are “end-to-end encrypted” (E2EE). “The VGT has not yet seen any indication from Meta that any new safety systems implemented post-E2EE will effectively match or improve their current detection methods,” it said.
Citing the case of David Wilson, who was jailed in 2021 for abusing 52 children, the VGT predicted similar