UK Home Office Says Securing Facebook Gives Free Reign to Terrorists

The UK government launched a fresh attack against Facebook. They say that security on Facebook will give free reign to child abusers and terrorists.

Just two days ago, we reported on Facebook suffering from yet another data leak. You’d think that, for some, this emphasizes the importance of ensuring better security for users. Unfortunately, the UK government through the Home Office is advocating less security for users in the face of the latest security lapse. The Home Office says that adding encryption to the platform will give free reign to child abusers and terrorists. From The Sun:

It would have meant 26million pieces of terrorist material going hidden instead of being flagged up between October 2017 and March this year.

And an estimated 12million reports relating to child sex abuse would be lost every year.

Last year they led to more than 2,500 UK arrests and the safeguarding of nearly 3,000 children.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said access to Facebook and Instagram messages were vital to avoiding those children are not abused, raped and degraded in the future.

Law enforcement agencies would also lose access to terror content – with 26 million pieces of terrorist material acted upon between October 2017 and March 2019 alone.

The comments mirror that of those pushed by the NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children). Earlier this month, they tried to push this exact same narrative as well – that adding security will somehow mean that the bad guys win. In September, such comments was met with a collective facepalm from the security community. They point out that encryption simply doesn’t work that way and that backing off encryption will allow children and the vulnerable to be susceptible to government snooping, and the very predators and terrorists such organizations sought to protect.

This fresh attack comes in the same month the US Senate held hearings on Facebooks encryption. In those hearings, the technology community once again pointed out that creating backdoors or otherwise weakening encryption would be a gift to all bad actors. These comments came as lawmakers threatened Facebook by saying that either they weaken encryption to satisfy everyone involved or laws would be implemented within a year to force Facebooks hand. Those threats were followed up with Facebook issuing a letter to Attorney General, William Barr, which said that they won’t be weakening encryption.

With the UK government also trying to pressure Facebook into complying with these demands, it highlights the fact that Facebook is facing pressure from multiple governments on this. Lawmakers will likely only be disappointed when Facebook doesn’t wave a magic wand and create a backdoor to their encryption that is impervious to bad actors. Ask just about anyone who knows security well and they will tell you that it is simply technologically unfeasible. If anything, this is looking increasingly like lawmakers are gearing up to ban effective security. Given how badly this ended in Australia, things only stand to get rather bumpy from here.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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