Challenging Meta's Encryption Policy: NCPTF Stands Up for Child Safety

A Call to Protect Children Over Encryption

On December 6, 2023, Meta, the parent company of the popular social media platforms Facebook and Instagram, announced it would enable end-to-end encryption (E2EE) as the default setting on Facebook and Messenger. The National Child Protection Task Force (NCPTF) is dismayed and disappointed by Meta’s decision. 

As a collective of former and current law enforcement, prosecutors, and private sector investigators, we are very familiar with the utilization of Meta’s platforms by pedophiles to groom and exploit children. Meta is well aware of the issue and has regularly reported suspected abuse to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s (NCMEC) CyberTipline. In fact, NCMEC received more than 20 million incidents of users sharing child sexual abuse material on Facebook and Messenger in 2022 alone.  

The Virtual Global Taskforce, a consortium of 15 law enforcement agencies tackling online child sexual abuse across the world, called upon Meta to abandon its plans to enable E2EE by default this past April. This was before reports by the Wall Street Journal that Meta platforms are used by pedophiles, spurring further Congressional scrutiny of the social media giant. Despite pledging to do better, recent research has shown Meta’s algorithms are still promoting pedophilic content. The National Crime Agency, a member of the Virtual Global Taskforce, estimates the decision to make E2EE the default “would result in the loss of the vast majority of reports (92% from Facebook and 85% from Instagram) of detected child abuse that are currently disseminated to UK police each year.” 

Meta’s decision, without fixing their underlying issues, will have disastrous consequences for those looking to combat child exploitation. The National Child Protection Task Force urges Meta to reconsider.  

Wondering how you can keep your kids safe online?

  • Ensure the digital safety of your home by setting up protective filters on all devices your children use, including phones, tablets, laptops, and computers.
  • Become well-versed with the online spaces your child visits, such as social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, as well as any gaming apps they may use. While your child may consider it intrusive, it is necessary to do all we can to personally protect our kids in spaces where they do not have proper protections in place.
  • Make it a point to have regular communication communication with your child to keep the lines open for all topics, including the tricky ones.
  • Foster a relationship based on trust with your child, so they feel comfortable discussing any subject with you, particularly any inappropriate content they might encounter online.
  • Regularly discuss their online activities, reinforcing how to make good decisions and ways to stay safe.

If your child shares concerning information, stay calm and keep communicating. Your goal is to understand, educate, and empower them to navigate online interactions wisely.

Teresa Jauregui

Teresa Jauregui is Chief Operating Officer of the National Child Protection Task Force. Ms. Jauregui is a seasoned legal expert and a dedicated advocate for justice, with a rich background in prosecuting serious felony cases, including those involving child sexual assault and homicide.