Meta delays plans of default end-to-end encryption for Instagram and Facebook till 2023

After merging Facebook Messenger and Instagram chats for its users last year, Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp has decided to put its default end-to-end encryption plan for Messenger and Instagram on hold till 2023.

Last year, Meta had given an end-to-end encryption (E2EE) option for its Messenger and Instagram users. However, this option was not present as default. Users were given the choice to select E2EE and the choice will most probably be available till the year 2023.

However, a default end-to-end encryption is already there for WhatsApp.

According to The Guardian, the decision to delay a default encryption also comes after UK's Home Secretary, Priti Patel criticized the use of end-to-end encryption, stating that it allows only the sender and recipient to view their content and can be a contributing factor to increasing child sexual abuse online.

Patel has termed this encryption as unacceptable, especially after UK published its 'Online Safety Bill' which will go into effect in 2023. The Bill is drafted to protect children from abusive content on online platforms and to keep them away from harm.

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has also mentioned that E2EE does not allow tech platforms and law enforcements to view messages and hence, private messaging could compromise user security and increase child sexual abuse.

Earlier, Meta had stated that the default E2EE feature would be available for Instagram and Messenger sometime early in 2022.

However, Meta’s head of safety, Antigone Davis stated that there would be a delay in the default E2EE feature as the company prioritizes user safety and wants to ensure that E2EE does not interfere with Meta’s security and its ability to counter criminal activity.

Davis said that the parent company is creating options of using a combination of non-encrypted data across apps, account information and reports from users, along with using  default end-to-end encryption when it becomes available, in order to keep the safety of users intact and contribute to public safety.

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