Social media firms urged to adopt technology to detect sexual abuse

‘Meta’s platforms cannot become a safe haven for paedophiles’ warns the Home Secretary

The Home Secretary has called on social media platforms to adopt technology to detect and remove sexual abuse of children.

Suella Braverman warned tech giants such as Facebook and Instagram must use firewall technology to prevent them becoming safe havens for paedophiles.

She has previously accused Mark Zuckerberg – Meta and CEO owner of both websites – of putting children at risk.

Last month she said she planned to write to the multi-billionaire to argue that the controversial plans for end-to-end encryption on the apps’ chat facilities is harmful.

End-to-end encryption means that private messages can only be read by the sender and the recipient, not even the third party like Meta can access them.

Campaigners say it seriously restricts the ability of the authorities to detect cases of child grooming and the sharing of sexual abuse material.

“The Government supports user privacy,” Mrs Braverman told The Telegraph. “It is essential for online financial transactions and people have a right to talk freely to their friends. But Meta is pursuing end-to-end encryption in away that stops it detecting child sexual abuse.

“Social media companies have vast power, which must come with an adequately developed sense of responsibility. Meta’s platforms cannot become a safe haven for child sexual abusers.”

The Online Safety Bill – which is in the latter stages of its journey to becoming law – in its current form has been accused of weakening encryption and therefore privacy.

WhatsApp is among the apps criticising the new law and threatening to remove its services from the UK market.

Meredith Whittaker, president of not-for-profit secure messaging app Signal, urged for the bill’s language to be altered. She previously told the Evening Standard: “It will not only create a significant vulnerability that will be exploited by hackers, hostile nation states, and those wishing to do harm, but effectively salt the earth for any tech development in London and the UK at large.”

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