Facebook risks hindering child abuse and terrorism investigations by hiding online messages, warns Priti Patel

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FACEBOOK has been warned by the new Home Secretary that its plans to hide online messages risks police investigations into child abuse and terrorism.

Priti Patel told the tech giant that increasing users’ privacy by making their chats secret will hinder detectives as they try to track down paedophiles and extremists.

Ms Patel is demanding that Facebook allow access to hidden messages by intelligence agencies
Getty – Pool

The new development – known as end-to-end encryption – will help criminals and put victims at risk, it is feared.

She is demanding that Facebook, along with Twitter and Google, allow access to hidden messages by intelligence agencies.

The Silicon Valley firms were given the stark warning by ministers from the “Five Eyes” intelligence allies – the UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – during a two-day meeting in London on emerging threats.

Ms Patel said: “The use of end-to-end encryption in this way has the potential to have serious consequences for the vital work which companies already undertake to identify and remove child abuse and terrorist content.

“It will also hamper our own law enforcement agencies, and those of our allies, in their ability to identify and stop criminals abusing children, trafficking drugs, weapons and people, or terrorists plotting attacks.”


US Attorney General William P. Barr added: “Encryption presents a unique challenge. We must ensure that we do not stand by as advances in technology create spaces where criminal activity of the most heinous kind can go undetected and unpunished.”

The interior and security ministers of the five leading western nations said in a statement that online child abuse material had increased twenty-fold in the past four years, to 18million images found last year.

Facebook says only the sender and recipient of encrypted messages can read them and the company itself cannot access them, reducing the risk of hacking.

Corbis – Getty

The Silicon Valley firms were given the stark warning by ministers from the ‘Five Eyes’ intelligence allies during a two-day meeting in London[/caption]

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