In 2019, Facebook announced plans to make end-to-end encryption the default across all its messaging services, including Facebook Messenger and Instagram’s direct messages. Now, the company has announced that those plans have been put on hold until 2023 after complaints from the UK government who believe allowing users more privacy would get in the way of law enforcement.
Earlier, the company had said it would introduce end-to-end encryption to Instagram DMs and Messenger some time next year. The technology has been available on WhatsApp since 2016, though not open-source.
However, the company’s plans have been criticized by campaigners and governments, the argument being encryption would make it more difficult for law enforcement to investigate cases.
The UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has called the encryption plans “morally wrong and dangerous.” Her ministry is wasting more than half-a-million pounds on a campaign against Facebook, accusing it of “blindfolding police.”
Facebook appears to have caved to the pressure and postponed its plans to introduce encryption on Facebook and Instagram’s messages.
“We’re taking our time to get this right and we don’t plan to finish the global rollout of end-to-end encryption by default across all our messaging services until sometime in 2023,” Facebook’s head of Safety, Antigone Davis told The Telegraph.
Davis said the company would use alternative ways to detect abuse, such as monitoring “patterns” of abusers like multiple accounts and sending messages to many users who are not friends.
“We believe people shouldn’t have to choose between privacy and safety,” Davis said.