Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp’s parent company — Meta, does not plan to roll out end-to-end encryption (E2EE) by default on Messenger and Instagram until 2023.
The company merged Messenger and Instagram chats last year, as a part of its plan to create a unified messaging system across all of its platforms.
As per The Verge, while messages sent through Messenger and Instagram can be E2EE, that option isn’t turned on by default and likely won’t be until sometime in 2023. WhatsApp already supports E2EE by default.
As per a source, Antigone Davis, Meta’s head of safety, attributed the delay to concerns about user safety. Since E2EE means only the sender and recipient will see their conversations, Davis said Meta wants to ensure that this doesn’t interfere with the platform’s ability to help stop criminal activity.
Once E2EE does become available by default, Davis noted that the company will “use a combination of non-encrypted data across our apps, account information and reports from users” to help keep them safe, all while “assisting public safety efforts.”
In a blog post earlier this year, Meta said that default E2EE would become available on Instagram and Messenger, “sometime in 2022 at the earliest.” But now, Davis said that Meta wants to “get this right,” so the company plans on delaying the feature’s debut until 2023.
Also going into effect in 2023 is the UK’s Online Safety bill, which will require online platforms to keep children from harm, as well as promptly address abusive content. This may impede Facebook’s plans to enable E2EE by default, as the UK’s Home Secretary, Priti Patel, has criticised its use in the past.
Last year, the US joined the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, India, and Japan in a call to give local law enforcement backdoor encryption access, which would allow authorities to view encrypted messages and files if a warrant is issued.