Citing child safety online, 129 signatories across 102 countries have written to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, urging him to resist introducing end-to-end encryption across Facebook’s messaging platforms. They argued that implementing end-to-end encryption would result in “more serious and sustained sexual abuse on Facebook’s virtual properties”. The Financial Times first reported this. We have reached out to Facebook for comment. Who all signed the letter? The letter, dated February 6, 2020, has been signed by 129 signatories including non-profit organisations, think tanks and individuals. The effort was led by UK’s National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and Barnardo’s. American professor Hany Farid, who specialises in analyzing digital images, and Australian academic Michael Salter are two of the signatories. Two Indian NGOs, Arpan and Tulir, also signed the letter. Why did they write the letter? In March 2019, Facebook had announced that it would eventually introduce end-to-end encryption to all its messaging services. The signatories are not “satisfied” that their concerns about protecting children online have been sufficiently addressed. They are concerned that the integration of Facebook Messenger and Instagram Direct would allow abusers to exploit the design and make "easy and frictionless contact" with large numbers of children. What do they want? They want Facebook to take the following measures: Halt the rollout of integration until Facebook proves that there would be “no net reduction” in child safety and proposed mitigations have been fully tested Share data with governments and child protection experts to assess and access…
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