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FBI director claims encryption plan would make Facebook a 'dream come true' for child pornographers

FBI Director Christopher Wray said Facebook is at risk of b...

Posted: Oct 4, 2019 3:05 PM

FBI Director Christopher Wray said Facebook is at risk of becoming a "dream come true" for child pornographers if it follows through with a plan to encrypt all of its users' messages.

"This is incredibly concerning, to put it mildly," Wray said in a speech at the Justice Department Friday morning. "When it comes to protecting children we're at a real inflection point and we risk falling off the cliff."

The swipe at the social media giant came as law enforcement officials have redoubled their efforts against a trend by technology companies towards data privacy that has hampered police abilities to access potential evidence.

US Attorney General William Barr and top officials from the United Kingdom and Australia on Thursday wrote to Facebook with a formal request for the company to abandon its encryption project.

On Friday, at the start of a full day conference on encryption and child abuse, Wray described how images and video of child pornography traded between abusers on Facebook -- critical elements in building a child pornography case -- could be lost if the platform encrypted communications.

Currently, Facebook is the main provider of leads to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, sending more than 90% of the 18 million referrals the agency gets every year, Wray said.

But under Facebook's proposed privacy plan, the company will lose avenues to see the content of those messages, restricting access to only certain pieces of metadata, like where and when messages are sent. That's expected to reduce the number of tips they send in by 70%, the Justice Department says.

"We will find ourselves laboring only on the tip of the iceberg, working on a small number of cases that authorities actually learn about, while the vast bulk of the kids who really need us then remain out of view hidden below," Wray said.

"Facebook would transform from the main provider of child exploitation tips to a dream come true for predators and child pornographers: a platform that allows them to find and connect with kids and like-minded criminals with little fear of consequences," he said.

Facebook declined to comment Friday on Wray's new broadside.

In a statement to CNN Thursday regarding the Justice Department letter, a Facebook spokesperson said the company respects and supports law enforcement's work to keep people safe, but added that they "strongly oppose government attempts to build backdoors because they would undermine the privacy and security of people everywhere."

More than 50 civil liberties groups came to the company's defense on Friday, signing on to an open letter that urged Facebook to stand strong in the face of the governments' pressure campaign.

"Given the remarkable reach of Facebook's messaging services, ensuring default end-to-end security will provide a substantial boon to worldwide communications freedom, to public safety, and to democratic values, and we urge you to proceed with your plans to encrypt messaging through Facebook products and services. We encourage you to resist calls to create so-called 'backdoors' or 'exceptional access' to the content of users' messages, which will fundamentally weaken encryption and the privacy and security of all users," the groups wrote.

Barr took issue with the term "backdoor" at the Justice Department conference Friday, calling it one of many "canards" that have been pushed by privacy groups throughout the long-running debate over encryption.

"We are seeking a front door," Barr said. "We would be happy if the companies providing the encryption keep the keys. What we are asking is that some responsible party have the keys so that when we can demonstrate a lawful basis - probable cause that crimes are being committed - we can gain access to that evidence."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 466145

Reported Deaths: 9061
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison31767460
Hinds30454568
DeSoto29346341
Jackson22754334
Rankin20946354
Lee14315213
Madison13914263
Jones12994215
Forrest12836231
Lauderdale11187292
Lowndes10109171
Lamar9929121
Pearl River8531203
Lafayette7958135
Hancock7065105
Oktibbeha6702117
Washington6659146
Neshoba6333199
Monroe6265156
Warren6243159
Panola5998122
Bolivar5920143
Pontotoc591692
Marshall5883115
Union555885
Pike5397133
Lincoln5173127
Alcorn504085
George453766
Scott445492
Leflore4365138
Tippah430280
Itawamba427191
Prentiss424474
Copiah422083
Simpson4220107
Tate416898
Adams4166109
Wayne416663
Yazoo410886
Covington403391
Sunflower4033104
Marion397597
Leake388283
Coahoma384796
Newton358673
Grenada3469100
Stone341154
Tishomingo318587
Attala317284
Jasper307661
Winston296791
Clay281372
Chickasaw276064
Clarke269484
Holmes257485
Calhoun255438
Smith239946
Yalobusha214047
Tallahatchie213348
Greene201544
Lawrence201531
Walthall201557
Perry193853
Amite189751
Webster189241
Noxubee171837
Montgomery167952
Jefferson Davis163241
Carroll157836
Tunica146233
Benton136631
Kemper136338
Claiborne123834
Choctaw122924
Humphreys121836
Franklin113927
Quitman100725
Wilkinson97435
Jefferson85432
Sharkey61120
Issaquena1896
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 754242

Reported Deaths: 12718
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1078971701
Mobile691761138
Madison47479561
Baldwin35221417
Shelby34596280
Tuscaloosa32385493
Montgomery32145644
Lee21477200
Calhoun19473363
Morgan18974307
Etowah18288410
Marshall16907252
Houston15808335
St. Clair14658269
Limestone13810176
Elmore13754239
Cullman13668226
Lauderdale12810263
Talladega12007198
DeKalb11653220
Walker9987302
Autauga9351119
Blount9246146
Jackson8893132
Coffee8505150
Colbert8187159
Dale8118141
Escambia628597
Tallapoosa6188163
Covington6159153
Chilton6132127
Russell584853
Franklin556692
Chambers5125127
Dallas4558173
Marion4464114
Clarke445168
Pike435788
Geneva411499
Lawrence3988101
Winston397681
Bibb385975
Barbour332967
Marengo316577
Monroe305044
Butler303778
Pickens294165
Henry286950
Randolph285755
Hale281581
Cherokee273849
Fayette267568
Washington239743
Crenshaw225762
Clay218060
Macon210254
Cleburne205146
Lamar183238
Conecuh172737
Lowndes167455
Coosa158331
Wilcox152833
Bullock145142
Perry132230
Sumter122535
Greene117741
Choctaw71725
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