Facebook’s security upgrade shields perverts


Angry police have slammed Facebook over encryption plans they claim will give child molesters an "open platform" to groom kids online.

Australian Federal Police assistant commissioner Lesa Gale said Facebook's switch to end-to-end encryption on its Facebook Messenger service would "severely curtail referrals we receive about child exploitation material".

"Facebook makes up 40 to 60 per cent of child exploitation reports received by the AFP," she told News Corp Australia. "The AFP believes that encryption will provide offenders with an open platform to groom children online.

"It will throw many investigations into the dark … it will be harder for the AFP to identify paedophiles and their victims."

Ms Gale said half the tip-offs to the US National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children would "vanish" once Facebook encrypted its Messenger service.

"This will have an adverse impact on the AFP to identify and disrupt instances of online child exploitation - and of course victims themselves," she said.



Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton yesterday warned that depraved child sex offenders would "act with impunity" as a result of Facebook's encryption.

"The millions of referrals made per year by Facebook regarding Facebook regarding child exploitation on their platform will be lost if they move to blunt end-to-end encryption," he said.

"The offenders will be able to act with impunity and law-enforcement (will be) hamstrung from identifying and rescuing the children."

A Facebook spokeswoman yesterday said end-to-end encryption - which uses a "lock" so it can only be viewed by the sender and recipient - "protects people's safety".

"We lead the industry in combating child exploitation in both public and private spaces on our services and remain committed to the safety of the people who use them," she said.

Facebook removed 9.5 million pieces of content that violated its ban on child nudity or sexual exploitation of children, between April and June this year.

The spokeswoman refused to explain how the social media giant could continue to remove content it will no longer be able to see once encrypted.

She cited Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's statement last year that "we are working to improve our ability to identify and stop bad actors across our apps … even when we can't see the content of the messages''.


Originally published as Facebook's security upgrade shields perverts