End-to-end encryption by default on messaging platforms will not result in a spike in child pornography, said Meta’s global security manager.
Amid fears that additional privacy could allow potential abusers to thrive, Antigone Davis says she is confident the company can continue to return people sharing illegal material to authorities. Meta is the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.
During a parliamentary hearing on how the police can fight against the exploitation of children, the chairman of the committee Julien simmond refers to the Australian Federal Police’s belief that encryption would restrict Meta’s ability to detect and report incidents of child pornography.
The committee heard that Meta referred more than 21,000 incidents to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children between July 2020 and June 2021. This comes as prosecutions for child sex offenses increase in Australia, to 35 per month. compared to 20 per month three years ago.
These statistics came from the Commonwealth Prosecutor Marc de Crespigny, who said cases involving child sexual abuse material were becoming more complex, with more live streaming activity.
Davis, who noted that already encrypted WhatsApp made more than 400,000 reports of suspected child abuse material last year, said Meta was taking a three-pronged approach. She said this included focusing on the initial damage prevention through measures such as moving minors’ accounts from default to private settings and making it difficult for suspicious accounts to see minors.
Meta will also make it easier for users to report suspected child exploitation and add additional layers of controls, including the ability to blur photos.
But Simmonds said law enforcement estimates 60% of his referrals will no longer be possible once encryption is the default on Meta platforms.
A communication from the Communications Alliance said all cooperation processes would remain in place and “meaningful data” would continue to be passed on to law enforcement.
But Simmonds disputed that, saying, “I don’t know how you can tell me that there will be a significant number of referrals when you just told me you can’t quantify that number. “
Labor MP Anne Aly asked when Meta’s messaging platforms were encrypted, how they could penetrate closed groups of potential criminals.
(These) services … allow people to create a closed group where they can share these images, like walking into a room and closing the door and locking it behind you, then sharing those images with each other. No one there will report him because he is part of this group.