- by theguardian
- 07 Oct 2022
Facebook announced on Thursday it will begin testing end-to-end encryption as the default option for some users of its Messenger app on Android and iOS.
The development comes as the company is facing backlash for handing over messages to a Nebraska police department that aided the department in filing charges against a teen and her mother for allegedly conducting an illegal abortion.
Facebook messenger users currently have to opt in to make their messages end-to-end encrypted (E2E), a mechanism that theoretically allows only the sender and recipient of a message to access its content.
But had all Facebook messages been encrypted by default back in June when Nebraska police issued a search warrant for Facebook user data of the mother investigated in the case, Facebook would not have messages to hand over to police in the first place.
Facebook spokesperson Alex Dziedzan said on Thursday that E2E encryption is a complex feature to implement and that the test is limited to a couple of hundred users for now so that the company can ensure the system is working properly.
The extent of the user data Facebook ended up handing over is not clear, but private messages between the women discussing how to obtain abortion pills were given to police by Facebook, according to the Lincoln Journal Star.
Experts previously told the Guardian that the main way for tech companies to avoid aiding in abortion-related prosecutions is to not store or collect the data at all.