Facebook: don’t expect full end-to-end encryption on Messenger before 2022 “at the earliest”

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Facebook says it wants to make E2EE the default on all of its messaging platforms, but it will be a gradual process.

Facebook Messenger won’t be encrypted until at least next year.

Image: James Martin / CNET

Facebook has pledged to make end-to-end encryption (E2EE) the default in all of its messaging services, but has told users not to expect it on Facebook Messenger or Instagram Direct until 2022 “at most early”.

Gail Kent, Facebook’s policy director for Messenger, shared a blog post on April 30, outlining the social media company’s plans to improve the security of its messaging apps following the increase in private messaging during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kent said the increase in messaging meant more people were concerned about the privacy and security of what they sent, further fueling the popularity of privacy-focused messaging platforms like Signal and Telegram.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Pledged to Improve Facebook’s Reputation as a Privacy-Driven Social Media Platform back in 2019, admitting at the time that the company did not “have a solid reputation for building privacy services.”

Zuckerberg cited private interactions, encryption, reduction of permanence, security, interoperability and secure data storage as the fundamental “principles” of developing a social network focused on privacy.

While Facebook has introduced a number of privacy and security tools over the past year, including additional privacy settings, messaging forwarding limits, an app lock, and vanishing-style messages. Snapchat, end-to-end encryption is still a work in progress.

Kent said the company “is working hard to bring end-to-end encryption by default” to all of its email services, but added that this is “a long-term project and we will not be. fully encrypted end-to-end forward no earlier than 2022. ”

SEE: Security incident response policy (TechRepublic Premium)

Kent added, “The security features we have already introduced are designed to work with end-to-end encryption, and we plan to continue to build strong security features into our services. ”

End-to-end encryption has been perhaps one of the most sought-after security features within messaging and meeting platforms since video conferencing became the norm in 2020.

Facebook-owned WhatsApp is encrypted by default, though it received negative feedback from privacy-conscious users in January when a privacy policy update said it would share more user data. with Facebook. The companies then clarified that the changes only affected business WhatsApp users, but not until some customers jumped ship for rival apps Signal and Telegram.

Kent responded to customer privacy expectations by outlining Facebook’s plans to increase security on its messaging platforms, which she said would be “guided by input from outside experts.”

Kent said: “People want to know how their data is used and what data is accessible by us or others when messaging. Additionally, people can have different expectations of privacy depending on the size. or the nature of a group or audience discussion.

“At the end of the day, privacy is personal and comes with different expectations depending on their situation. Transparency and controls are therefore essential.”

SEE: How to Manage Passwords: Best Practices and Security Tips (Free PDF) (TechRepublic)

People also want messages free from unwanted ads and more secure from scams, which also have sharply increased during the pandemic.

Kent further recognized a “clear need” to balance the privacy and security of user messages while maintaining the security of the platform and ensuring law enforcement can access data when needed. “in response to actual harm”.

In the UK, Facebook is facing calls to keep its messaging platforms unencrypted to help law enforcement tackle abuse on the platform.

Kent said there was so far “no consensus on a recommended approach” that could adequately balance security, privacy and security, and that more consultation would be needed.

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