Meta to roll out default end-to-end encryption in Messenger this year, thus meaning that I finally is going to be making good on its promise. Reports also claim that protection for Instagram will follow suit shortly after.
Meta Default End-To-End Encryption in Messenger
Meta is planning to roll out default end-to-end encryption for its Messenger product and service by the end of this year, the company in a blog post on Tuesday confirmed.
“Starting today, millions more people’s chats on Messenger will be upgraded to stronger encryption standards as part of our ongoing end-to-end encryption (E2EE) testing,” the blog stated. “We remain on track to launch default E2EE for one-to-one friends and family chats on Messenger by the end of the year.”
Meta initially reaffirmed this commitment in a letter that was sent to Fight for the Future in the early parts of this month, which was in question viewed by The Verge, responding to a pro-encryption campaign that was launched by the digital rights group in the previous year. Meta’s deputy privacy officer, Rob Sherman, in the letter, stated that adding the additional layer is at the moment being tested in both Messenger and Instagram chats. Users of Messenger can already encrypt messages but however must opt into the service since it is not on by default.
What Meta’s Deputy Privacy Officer Has to Say about the New Development
“We remain committed to rolling our default end-to-end encryption for private conversations on Messenger in 2023, and shortly afterwards for Instagram,” Sherman revealed. “End-to-end encryption is the best technology we have today to protect people’s messages, and we also see it as an important reason why people might choose to use our products over competitors’.
Social Media Platforms Under Pressure to Enact Default DM Encryption
Pressure for the major players in the social media industry to implement default DM encryption has substantially grown over the previous year following the decision of the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade just last summer. Months after the said reversal, a Nebraska teenager and her mother were reportedly charged with performing an illegal abortion after police got their private chat history from Meta. The teenager back in July was then sentenced to 90 days in jail after pleading guilty to additional charges that were related to concealing human remains.
Fight for the Future’s Take on DM Encryption
“Our hearts broke watching the case of the Nebraska teenager who was just jailed for self-managing an abortion, knowing that the lack of default end-to-end encryption on Facebook Messenger played a role in her criminalization,” Leila Nashashibi, Fight for the Future campaigner, in a statement on Tuesday stated. “Every day that companies wait to implement this vital feature is another day where vulnerable people are put in serious danger.”
Several police groups have pushed back on platforms turning on encrypted messages by default since it reportedly creates new hurdles for law enforcement in getting evidence of criminal activity. Federal legislation on the other hand also has threatened industry-wide encryption adoption. Civil rights groups as well have also argued that the (R-SC) EARN IT Act of Sen. Lindsey Graham could make it relatively easy for platforms to be sued for offering encryption services just because it can be utilized in sending and receiving child sexual abuse materials.
Meta’s Struggle to Transition DMs to Servers That Are Capable of Handling End-To-End Encrypted Traffic
Sherman told Fight for the Future that the testing phase in question has taken much longer than expected, writing that Meta on its own has struggled to transition DMs to servers that are capable of handling end-to-end encrypted traffic and therefore must rebuild a number of product features just before the service gets to go live.
“I wanted to reiterate that Meta is committed to providing the ability for people to communicate privately with their friends and loved ones where they have confidence that no one else can see into their conversations,” Sherman revealed.
Messenger users and account holders were able to opt in to encrypting their DMs beginning in January 2022. Meta started testing turning it on by default that August and has since then continued testing it.
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