Facebook rejects attorney general’s plea for ‘backdoor’ access to encrypted messages

Facebook rejects attorney general’s plea for ‘backdoor’ access to encrypted messages

Facebook has rejected Attorney General William Barr’s plea for the social media giant to help law enforcement officials more easily access encrypted messages.

Giving authorities a “back door” into such protected messages would only create a vulnerability for others to exploit, the heads of Facebook’s WhatsApp and Messenger services told Barr and his counterparts in the United Kingdom and Australia.

“The ‘backdoor’ access you are demanding for law enforcement would be a gift to criminals, hackers and repressive regimes, creating a way for them to enter our systems and leaving every person on our platforms more vulnerable to real-life harm,” Will Cathcart and Stan Chudnovsky wrote in a letter Monday.

“It is simply impossible to create such a backdoor for one purpose and not expect others to try and open it,” they added.

Facebook’s missive came in response to Barr and other officials’ open letter in October urging the company not to continue encrypting its messaging platforms without giving law enforcement a way in.

Facebook said it is looking to roll out end-to-end encryption — which only allows the sender and recipient of a message to access its contents — across all its messaging services. The protection is already available by default on WhatsApp and for some Facebook Messenger conversations. Facebook also plans to extend it to Instagram Direct.

But law enforcement officials worry the practice will make it harder to crack down on child sex predators and terrorists — concerns that Barr repeated in a Tuesday speech.

“Technological innovations that purport to protect privacy at all costs — while impeding sworn law enforcers’ ability to go after violent criminals, child predators, human traffickers and terrorists, even once the enforcers satisfied the rigorous privacy protections built into the Fourth Amendment — may not be worth the trade-off,” Barr said.

But Facebook’s letter cast encryption as a safeguard against different kinds of crimes, such as identity theft and hacking.

The company said it will continue to respond to law enforcement officials’ valid legal requests for information and tip them off to “credible threats.”

Concerns about giving authorities backdoor access “doesn’t mean that we cannot help law enforcement,” Cathcart and Chudnovsky wrote. “We can and we do, as long as it is consistent with the law and does not undermine the safety of our users.”

With Post wires


Source : Noah Manskar Link

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