Should Tech Companies Read Personal Messages to Protect Children?

One of the biggest questions that need to be answered in the world of tech is whether or not tech companies should be given permission to analyze private messages that are sent from user to user. Mark Zuckerberg’s attempts to create secured messaging channels throughout all of his messaging and social media platforms is at the heart of this debate. The UK government has been at odds with Zuckerberg and other tech titans that are working towards similar goals for quite some time now.

With all of that having been said and now out of the way, it is important to note that end to end encryption has become the name of the game in many ways. Zuckerberg himself said that end to end encryption will be standardized across Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger around four years ago. According to him and other insiders at Meta, this mammoth task will finally be completed towards the end of 2023.

In spite of the fact that this is the case, many have called for governments to halt this switch over in its tracks. In the UK, the Online Safety Bill might pose a significant obstacle to end to end encryption with all things having been considered and taken into account.

Mark Zuckerberg seems to think that ultra secure and privatized messaging is the way of the future. However, governments want him and other tech company owners to install a back door because of the fact that this is the sort of thing that could potentially end up allowing them to scan messages for illegal materials.

According to the UK government, end to end encryption will make it far more difficult for law enforcement agencies to do their jobs than might have been the case otherwise. They will be unable to check out messages after providing a warrant, since the social media platforms themselves would not be able to access these messages even if they wanted to acquiesce to police demands.

The main concern here has to do with the grooming of children. Predators and other types of malicious actors may be able to target children without any type of legal oversight or accountability. End to end encryption can certainly provide consumers with the level of privacy that they desire, but the cost of this privacy might be far too great for anyone to be willing to bear.

The UK’s Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, went so far as to pen a letter to Mark Zuckerberg imploring him to recognize how predators might benefit from end to end encryption. Her views seem to echo those of regular consumers in the UK, with 73% of the people that responded to a recent survey stating that tech companies should scan messages in order to detect Child Sexual Abuse Materials and the like.

WhatsApp and Signal have indicated that this would be deal breaker for them, stating that they would rather remove their apps from stores than get rid of end to end encryption. It will be interesting to see where things go from here on out. The debate continues to rage, and either the government or tech corporations will end up coming out on top in the future.

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