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October 4, 2019updated 07 Jul 2022 10:10am

Read the Home Secretary’s Startling Letter to Zuckerberg on Encryption

"Embed the safety of the public in system designs"

By CBR Staff Writer

Home Secretary Priti Patel, along with her Australian and US counterparts, has written a startling open letter to the Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, urging the data mining/advertising company to “not proceed with its plan to implement end-to-end encryption across its messaging services”.

While the British government and its “Five Eyes” partners (Australia, Canada, the US and New Zealand) have long – and increasingly vociferously – bewailed the increasing use of end-to-end encryption, which problematise their data-mining of digital communications, the letter is the first time such senior government figures have explicitly called for what would amount to backdoors in Facebook and Whatsapp’s encryption.

Read the full letter here.

facebook encryption back door

More than 1 billion people in over 180 countries use Whatsapp. Facebook meanwhile has over 1.59 billion daily active users globally.

Patel – alongside US Attorney General William Barr, acting US Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan and her Australian counterpart Peter Dutton – suggested that such encryption could, effectively, be back-doored without compromising broader security of users.

Urging Zuckerberg’s companies to “embed the safety of the public in system designs”, she wrote: “Our technical experts are confident that we can do so while defending cyber security and supporting technological innovation.”

 Facebook Encryption Back Door

The signatories emphasise the importance of being able to do so as part of law enforcement efforts against terrorists and child molesters.

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“It is critical to get this right for the future of the internet. Children’s safety and law enforcement’s ability to bring criminals to justice must not be the ultimate cost of Facebook taking forward these proposals.”

The request comes after a March 6, 2019 post by Zuckerberg in which he said believes “the future of communication will increasingly shift to private, encrypted services where people can be confident what they say to each other stays secure and their messages and content won’t stick around forever. This is the future I hope we will help bring about.”

See also: Landmark GCHQ Publication Explains Vulnerability Hoarding/Publication Decision-Making Process

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