US, UK and Australia urge Facebook to create backdoor access to encrypted messages

The United States, United Kingdom and Australia plan to pressure Facebook to create a backdoor into its encrypted messaging apps that would allow governments to access the content of private communications, according to an open letter from top government officials to Mark Zuckerberg obtained by the Guardian.

The open letter, dated 4 October, is jointly signed by the UK home secretary, Priti Patel; the US attorney general, William Barr; the US acting secretary of homeland security, Kevin McAleenan; and the Australian minister for home affairs, Peter Dutton, and is expected to be released Friday.

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Barr Pushes Facebook for Access to WhatsApp Messages
The Justice Department has renewed its fight for access to encrypted communications, arguing that it is a vital crime-fighting tool even as technology companies and advocates have countered that it will threaten individual privacy.

Attorney General William P. Barr took aim at Facebook’s plan to make WhatsApp and its other messaging services more secure, pressing its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, to create a loophole to that goal of full encryption. The Justice Department said that investigators needed lawful access to encrypted communications to fight terrorism, organized crime and child pornography.

US authorities seek access to Facebook encrypted messaging

U.S. Attorney General William Barr and other U.S., U.K. and Australian officials are pressing Facebook to give authorities a way to read encrypted messages sent by ordinary users, re-igniting tensions between tech companies and law enforcement.

Facebook’s WhatsApp already uses so-called end-to-end encryption, which locks up messages so that even Facebook can’t read their contents. Facebook plans to extend that protection to Messenger and Instagram Direct.

Facebook encryption threatens public safety, says minister
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has sent an open letter to Facebook calling on the firm to rethink its plans to encrypt all messages on its platforms.

The policy threatens “lives and the safety of our children”, she said.

She feels it could hamper international efforts to grant law enforcers faster access to private messages on social media, as agreed between the UK and US.

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