USA, allies insist on Facebook spreading its message

San Francisco

The United States, Britain and Australia have called on Face book to give authorities the ability to circumvent encryption used in its messaging services — a measure opposed by the social media giant.

Face book has been dogged by several privacy scandals in recent years and has pledged to boost user protections by rolling out end-to-end encryption across its entire social media platforms. But that plan risks weakening the ability of law enforcement to detect criminal acts including terrorism and child pornography, according to a joint letter signed by US Attorney General William Barr, British Home Secretary Priti Patel and Australian Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton.

“Face book has not committed to address our serious concerns about the impact its proposals could have on protecting our most vulnerable citizens,” said the Thursday letter, addressed to company Chief Mark Zuckerberg.

The company already encrypts WhatsApp messages from end-to-end — meaning only the sender and recipient can read the message — and is working to extend the technology to other apps in its family, including Messenger and Instagram.

Face book says it is intent on introducing the service without granting oversight to law enforcement agencies.

“We strongly oppose government attempts to build backdoors because they would undermine the privacy and security of people everywhere,” a Face book spokesperson said.

Zuckerberg said users had been clamoring for encryption, adding that patterns of behavior and connections between accounts could be used to detect illicit behavior even if authorities could not see data in private messages.

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