NSPCC SW slams Facebook plan

The NSPCC has slammed Facebook‘s encryption plans after three out of four adults polled in the South West said they don’t think the site is safe for children.

Out of 184 adults surveyed in the region, just 16% said the tech giant took the safety of children using the site seriously and nearly two thirds (61%) believed the platform was failing in its duty of care to protect children.

The claims came in an NSPCC/ Savanta ComRes poll following the tech giant’s announcement that they will encrypt messages on Facebook and Instagram.

The charity previously revealed that instances of Facebook, Instagram or WhatsApp being used in child abuse image and online child sexual offences were recorded by the police 11 times a day in 2018/19.

It is now warning the tech giant not to create hiding places for abusers by pressing ahead with encryption plans that don’t have strong safeguards in place.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who admitted that his plans would protect the “privacy of people doing bad things”, has failed to give any clear answers in how he intends to stop groomers preying on children on his site.

The NSPCC is calling for supporters to sign an open letter to Facebook demanding they put children first as part of its Wild West Web campaign.

Andy Burrows, NSPCC head of child safety online policy, said: “Facebook has been called out for its abject failure to make their platforms safe, yet their encryption plans will give offenders a free pass to abuse children while they look the other way.

“This cavalier approach risks creating a one-stop grooming shop if Facebook doesn’t include strong safeguards that protect children in their encryption plan.

“Boris Johnson must make it clear that upcoming regulation will force Facebook to guarantee children’s safety on its messaging services or be hit hard in the pocket for failing in its duty of care.”

The NSPCC is calling for:

  • No end-to-end encryption for messages going to or coming from children’s accounts on Facebook apps
  • Adults accounts not to be encrypted until and unless Facebook has solutions to ensure child abuse can be detected and that children safety won’t be compromised
  • The Government to push ahead with introducing an independent Duty of Care regulator to keep children safe online
  • The Government to warn Facebook that encryption breaches the incoming Duty of Care and pressing ahead will mean tough consequences

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