Facebook has been warned by the new Home Secretary that its plans to cover online messages risks police investigations into child abuse and terrorism.
Priti Patel told the tech giant that increasing users’ privacy by creating their chats secret can hinder detectives as they struggle to trace down pedophiles and extremists.
The new development – referred to as end-to-end encryption – can facilitate criminals and place victims in danger, it’s feared.
She is demanding that Facebook, together with Twitter and Google, permit access to hidden messages by intelligence agencies.
The Silicon Valley corporations were given the stark warning by ministers from the “Five Eyes” intelligence allies – Great Britain, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – during a two-day meeting in London on rising threats.
Ms. Patel said: “The use of end-to-end encryption in this way has the potential to possess serious consequences for the very important work which corporations already undertake to spot and take away child abuse and terrorist content.
“It will hamper our own law enforcement agencies, and those of our allies, in their ability to spot and stop criminals abusing children, trafficking drugs, weapons and people, or terrorists plotting attacks.”