An NSPCC/YouGov survey1 found 33% of UK adults support using end-to-end encryption on social media and messaging services, but this jumps to 62%2 if it’s rolled out only if and when tech firms can ensure children’s safety is protected.
Private messaging is where most child sexual abuse happens online, and we're calling for an urgent reset of debates on end-to-end encryption to help keep children safe.
End-to-end encryption means only the devices communicating have the ability to decrypt and read the messages. While this is useful for privacy, it also presents risks for child safety and means abuse can go unnoticed online.
A major NSPCC roundtable event attended by the Home Secretary, Priti Patel, will bring together child protection, civil society and law enforcement experts from the UK, US, Canada, Ireland, and Australia. The reset of the debate will focus on showing how end-to-end encryption takes away platforms’ ability to find abuse in private messaging, and how this can be avoided.
Currently, major tech firms use a range of tech to identify child abuse images and detect grooming and sexual abuse in private messages. But Facebook’s proposals for end-to-end encryption for Facebook Messenger and Instagram would make these tools useless, with an estimate of 70% of global child abuse reports lost. In 2018 these reports resulted in 2,500 arrests and 3,000 children being safeguarded in the UK3