UK MPs Dials Up Pressure, Summons Senior Facebook Rep Over Encryption

It seems that UK MPs are furious that Facebook is protecting their users – so much so that they summoned Nick Clegg to explain himself.

You’d think protecting the privacy of users is a crime at this point. Earlier, we report that the US, UK, and Australia demanded Facebook think twice before enabling end-to-end encryption. In response, more than 100 rights organizations from all over the globe penned their own open letter calling on Facebook to continue with plans to secure users communications.

Now, it seems that the UK is dialing up the pressure yet again. UK MPs, in what is being described as an “extraordinary” move, has summoned Nick Clegg of Facebook to give evidence on encryption. From the Telegraph:

Nick Clegg is to be summoned to parliament to give evidence on Facebook’s plans to encrypt its Messenger service, the Telegraph has learned.

The Science and Technology select committee voted Tuesday morning to hold an extraordinary session on the company’s plans, which the Home Secretary criticised last week as potentially creating a “digital blindspot” for terrorists and paedophiles to exploit.

Norman Lamb, the committee’s chair, said MPs wanted a Facebook executive of Sir Nick’s seniority to give evidence due to the “significance” of the decision to introduce encryption.

Speaking to the Telegraph, Mr Lamb said: “We have decided to proceed with the evidence session on the encryption issue and will be asking Nick Clegg to give evidence along with a minister. This is obviously a highly significant decision by them (Facebook).

“It is important that there be parliamentary scrutiny, not just in this country but other countries are having this debate as well. We decided to call him as we want to understand how they (Facebook) will balance the competing interests between privacy, security and law enforcement.”

Clearly, we are seeing big government trying to turn the heat up on Facebook in an effort to get them to abandon their effort to protect user information. To say that they are just wanting information on their plans is, at best, a stretch. The open letter that was sent earlier this month suggests that governments have already made up their mind on security. The goal here is more likely to pressure Facebook even further to halt their plans on securing users information.

At this point in time, the question is how much resolve does Facebook have to actually securing their users information. That resolve, of course, is being put to the test at this point.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.

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