Meta LogoSource: Alex Dobie / Android Central

What you need to know

  • Meta has delayed its plan to enable end-to-end encryption for Messenger and Instagram by default.
  • The company's head of safety has confirmed that the rollout will happen in 2023 instead of next year.
  • Meta's default E2EE is facing hurdles from child safety advocates as it's deemed to hamper crime detection.

Meta's plan to roll out default end-to-end encryption for Instagram and Messenger sometime next year will no longer happen. Instead, the company is pushing back on the plan until 2023.

Antigone Davis, Meta's head of safety, confirmed the delay in a post on The Telegraph (via The Guardian). He said the reason behind it is the growing concern over user safety. According to Davis, Meta wants to spend more time evaluating how to strike the balance between protecting user privacy and combating online crime.

E2EE is already turned on by default for some of the best messaging apps for Android owned by Meta (formerly Facebook) such as WhatsApp. This method prevents anyone except you and the recipient from being able to view the content of a chat. However, for law enforcement authorities, E2EE could cripple their efforts to detect and prevent online abuses.

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Davis wrote that Meta wants to make sure its encryption plans don't hamper law enforcement operations by using "a combination of non-encrypted data across our apps, account information and reports from users."

Facebook Messenger introduced end-to-end encryption for voice and video calls earlier this year. This was despite widespread calls from governments around the world for Facebook to halt its encryption efforts due to concerns about child safety.

Coincidentally, the UK's online safety bill is scheduled to go into effect in 2023. The legislation requires online services to assist in protecting children from harm and to combat online abuse. It remains to be seen how the upcoming legislation will impact Meta's plans to enable E2EE by default.

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