End-to-end encryption for Facebook Messenger and Instagram may not be available until 2023

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According to The Guardian, Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, does not plan to implement end-to-end encryption (E2EE) by default on Messenger and Instagram until 2023.

Last year, the firm integrated Messenger and Instagram chats as part of an effort to unify messaging across all of its platforms. While E2EE messages can be transmitted using Messenger and Instagram, the capability isn’t turned on by default — and probably won’t be until 2023. E2EE is already supported by WhatsApp by default.

The delay, according to Antigone Davis, Meta’s head of safety, is due to user safety concerns, according to an article in The Telegraph. Because E2EE means that only the sender and recipient will be able to see each other’s conversations, Davis says Meta wants to make sure that this doesn’t hinder the platform’s ability to help deter illegal conduct. Davis said that once E2EE is enabled by default, the business would “use a combination of non-encrypted data across our apps, account information and reports from users” to keep users safe while “assisting public safety efforts.”

Meta stated in a blog post earlier this year that default E2EE would be accessible on Instagram and Messenger “sometime in 2022 at the earliest.” However, according to Davis, Meta wants to “get this right,” therefore the feature will be delayed until 2023.

The UK’s Online Safety Bill, which takes effect in 2023, would require online platforms to protect minors from danger and to immediately address abusive content. This could stymie Facebook’s intentions to make E2EE available by default, given the UK’s Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has already denounced its use. According to a BBC storey, Patel believes E2EE will make it more difficult to prevent online child abuse, saying, “Sadly, at a time when we need to be taking more action… Facebook is still pursuing E2EE plans that place the good work and the progress that has already been made at jeopardy.”

Last year, the United States joined the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, India, and Japan in calling for backdoor encryption access for local law enforcement, which would allow authorities to view encrypted messages and files if a warrant was issued.