Facebook working on optional end-to-end encryption for Messenger

Posted:
in General Discussion edited May 2016
Following greater industry trends toward security, Facebook is looking to bring end-to-end encryption to its popular Messenger platform, a report said on Tuesday.




The technology should come to Messenger in the next several months, three sources told The Guardian. Unlike most uses of encryption, however, Facebook's technology is expected to be opt-in, since it would otherwise interfere with the bots the company announced in April.

End-to-end encryption means that only the sender and the recipient of a message can see its content. Under the coming system, even Facebook will be unable to read this data, leaving Messenger bots without a way of communicating.

Facebook's path is similar to the one Google is adopting with Allo, a new chat app that makes use of machine learning to suggest quick replies. Since encryption breaks that learning, the extra security is available only by jumping into the app's Incognito mode.

Other messaging platforms -- like Apple's iMessage and Facebook's own WhatsApp -- have encryption on by default, which has caused some in law enforcement, politics, and spy agencies to complain about communications "going dark" to legitimate investigations. Those complaints could become even more intense, since Facebook Messenger is used by over 900 million people.

At the same time, many in the public have become worried about mass surveillance by governments, as well as interception by criminals and other hackers. Apple in particular has marketed privacy as a key selling point, going so far as to resist court orders that might force it to weaken encryption.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 5
    macseekermacseeker Posts: 403member
    Yeah, given facebook's history, I kinda doubt it. They will still read the messages even when the user encrypts the discussion.
  • Reply 2 of 5
    NemWanNemWan Posts: 111member
    macseeker said:
    Yeah, given facebook's history, I kinda doubt it. They will still read the messages even when the user encrypts the discussion.
    If they can read it, it's not end-to-end encryption by defintion.

    It should be automatic, not opt-in. Both Google and Facebook should make any services that require end-to-end encryption to be disabled to be opt-in.

    Imagine if a restaurant advertised that they put microphones in every table so they can listen to everything your party says and respond instantly when you happen to mention food or drinks, and you had to opt out of that. If people don't think of online privacy the same way they don't understand it and are being exploited when they accept half-measures like Google and Facebook are offering.
    edited May 2016
  • Reply 3 of 5
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,648member
    Can't think of the last time I used Facebook Messenger, but good move.  I wonder whether the opt-out option will be apparent, or buried under umpteen layers of settings menus.
  • Reply 4 of 5
    NemWan said:
    macseeker said:
    Yeah, given facebook's history, I kinda doubt it. They will still read the messages even when the user encrypts the discussion.
    If they can read it, it's not end-to-end encryption by defintion.

    It should be automatic, not opt-in. Both Google and Facebook should make any services that require end-to-end encryption to be disabled to be opt-in.

    Imagine if a restaurant advertised that they put microphones in every table so they can listen to everything your party says and respond instantly when you happen to mention food or drinks, and you had to opt out of that. If people don't think of online privacy the same way they don't understand it and are being exploited when they accept half-measures like Google and Facebook are offering.
    Club 33 in Disneyland did that already - http://www.disneylandclub33.com/trophyroomphotos.htm
  • Reply 5 of 5
    n0bodyn0body Posts: 7member
    I wonder how long it will be before having a discussion off-mic will be "going dark."
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