Facebook Shareholders The Latest Group To Ask Facebook To Drop Its Encryption Plans

from the but-the-biggest-shareholder-still-has-most-of-the-votes dept

Facebook is implementing end-to-end encryption in its Messenger service. This has made a number of government officials unhappy. Claiming this will lead to an increase in child sexual exploitation, multiple governments (including our own) have pounded their respective tables in Facebooks’ direction, demanding the company not give its users secure communications.

Now, it’s more than just government officials. The BBC reports some of Facebook’s shareholders have been swayed by the international table-pounding.

Investors at Facebook’s annual stockholder meeting will vote on a proposal to postpone the firm’s plans for end-to-end encryption.

The firm says it wants to make the measure the default option across its messaging platforms to protect privacy.

But activist shareholders say this would make it nearly impossible to detect child exploitation on Facebook.

The group wants the company to delay the move until after its board of directors studies the risk further.

The shareholders’ proposal [PDF] copy-pastes a lot of anti-encryption talking points about the supposed impossibility of tracking down users trafficking in child pornography. First, the proposal chastises Facebook for doing such a great job working with authorities to tackle the problem.

The New York Times reports Facebook Messenger was responsible for “nearly 12 million of the 18.4 million worldwide reports of” CSAM in 2018…

Then it moves on to passing on threats from US legislators to backdoor encryption or otherwise regulate Facebook out of the encrypted communications market.

Facebook may face significant regulatory risk if it cannot curb child sexual abuse on existing platforms or on encrypted messaging. Senate Judiciary Committee member Marsha Blackburn stated in a December 2019 hearing that Facebook and peers need to “get your act together, or we will gladly get your act together for you.” Most of the Committee supported that sentiment.

The shareholders are asking for a delay until at least February of next year before implementation so the Board of Directors can compile a report on the negative aspects of implementing end-to-end encryption in Messenger. This demand confuses the issue, claiming this is about privacy rather than security.

Shareholders request that the Board of Directors issue a report by February 2021 assessing the risk of increased sexual exploitation of children as the Company develops and offers additional privacy tools such as end-to-end encryption.

While it’s true additional security measures will be a net benefit for users’ privacy, the key issue is the security of the communications, rather than ensuring Facebook isn’t able to see the content of users’ messages. Privacy has slider bars when it comes to users and their dealings with both Facebook and the government. Security either is or isn’t. It’s not something you can sort of have.

This table-pounding likely isn’t going to go anywhere. These shareholders are in the minority. Even if it was all of Facebook’s investors, Mark Zuckerberg still controls a majority of Facebook’s voting shares. Unless he can be talked out of it, the measure isn’t going to pass. And Zuckerberg appears to want Messenger to be as secure as WhatsApp — another frequent target of government outrage.

Encryption is coming to Messenger. And about the only thing that can stop it — or at least severely hamper it — is legislation like the EARN IT Act, which disingenuously targets both encryption and Section 230 immunity under the guise of protecting the children.

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Companies: facebook

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Comments on “Facebook Shareholders The Latest Group To Ask Facebook To Drop Its Encryption Plans”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The concern was child pornography. If the children are using the apps to do that, it’s not "exploitation", and every time we’ve seen the government try to "help" with it, it’s done nothing but harm the children (many of whom can hardly be called children).

Child abuse was widespread long before smartphones, and I’ve seen no evidence that the ability to share pictures correlates with an increase in abuse.

ECA (profile) says:

Strange idea..

I wonder how long we have not had Private conversations?
Any chance that the Privileged, need to learn a few things?
Equality has left the building.

Now insted of blaming everything on others, we blame it on the invisible. Something that been happening for so long, there is no time frame to equate to it. Hidden in time, we now have a ghost to blame everything on. Something that ranks about 0.001% of the USA humanity. Cant say anything about other countries. But do remember that it was about 60 years ago that you could be age 12 and get married in this country.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: The NSA was one of those investors

The NSA/CIA invested early in many of the Tech Giants including Facebook.

No. The NSA and CIA did not invest in Facebook. Don’t spread misinfo.

The NSA is strongly against encryption, even when it makes Americans safer more often than not.

No, the NSA is in favor of encryption, and has actually argued back against the parts of the government that are against encryption.

You are confusing a lot of things.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: The NSA was one of those investors

I think you are confused, whitey. You are white, right? Milky white. I saw you with that other white privileged bitch, what’s her name? The one that used to be a man but Obama made her a woman and then you were on stage with her getting an award for a free sex change. What’s her name? Anyway, you are white, she is white, you both have no idea what PRIVILEGED life you lead, changing sexes for free, doing what you want, fucking each other in every disgusting orifice. YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW THE REST OF US NON-WHITE PEOPLE LIVE! BLACK ONES! THATS RIGHTI"M BLACK SOWHAT! I"M GOING TO BURN DOWN LA WITH YOU IN IT!

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Koby (profile) says:

What Percentage?

One thing that I was unable to locate in the article was — what percentage of shareholders were trying to offer this proposal? 5%? 0.5%? 0.05%? I could go out and buy a few shares this afternoon and call myself a shareholder. This sounds like a desperate attempt by the camel to get its nose under the tent.

ECA (profile) says:

Re: Governmentr

Good comment, lets ask..
Who has the money and locations to HOLD a person, against their will, for an extended period, as well as get a Doctor to keep them healthy..
How much money would it take?
IT AINT CHEAP to have people SHUT UP.

Then there is the backdoor to what is being tried. And its to get the hookers off the streets.. We already have laws for this stuff, Including For children.

What is this going to do, with no facility to solve the problem.. NOTHING. They wont even install safe houses for those trying to get away from abusive husbands…WHY do it for kids and teens.

ANd if something DOES start to fix the problem… IT will only go Deeper, underground, hidden, Private..to the point you wont even see it, unless you are involved.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Only criminals would tweet "defund the police". And traitors, and seditious rat bastards that deserve jail time in an overcrowded cell filled with Obama Ebola suffering fools. Police should just walk out of NYC and take the honest citizens with them, leaving only the progressive leftists to devour each other.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I doubt you or any of your associates understand what the word seditious means.

"Police should just walk out of NYC and take the honest citizens with them, leaving only the progressive leftists to devour each other."

  • Is this the rapture you freaks have been talking about?

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Yes, that’s it. Rapture. All you fucking leftist weirdos that want to be enslaved by a power that you cannot control or fathom or debate or even consider carefully, all gathered together in big cities, kneeling and kowtowing and killing, raping and murdering each other, that sounds exactly perfect. Could make a good TV show, or Netflix movie, Rollerball, that kind of thing. LeftistRollerBall, ProgressiveRollerBall, Fun to watch, maybe worth paying for.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Anonymous Coward says:

You remember Atlas Shrugged, right? Ayn Rand? Yeah, she’s crazy, but what she wrote about is real, and happening now. The smart people just leave crazy societies. Police are smart. Honest, hard working people are smart. They just go together, as a group, and leave you leftist assholes to devour each other. Same same as she wrote about, you remember, right? You read it when you were, like, 12, right? Ayn Rand? Atlas Shrugged? Steel? Railroads? Ring a bell?

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