Facebook said it is going to enhance encryption capabilities on its Messenger communication platform, despite requests from lawmakers and regulators not to do so because of the potential result that pedophiles and criminals will be harder to track.
Facebook also said it is going to go over safety measures and tell users how to avoid unwanted content, or how to report it, Reuters reported. The news has law enforcement officials around the world worried that the new measures will help hide criminals.
The new changes have been lauded by civil rights organizations and technology experts, however. Jay Sullivan, director for messaging privacy at Facebook, said the company is going to make the changes but also be more careful with collected data.
The company is sharing the news at a tech conference in Lisbon, and Sullivan said that he is going to highlight an option for end-to-end encryption that already exists in Messenger, but that people don’t generally know about. He said he hopes as more people use the option, the data will help to guide Facebook as it crafts safety measures for the eventual full-time switch to private chats.
“This is a good test bed for us,” Sullivan said. “It’s part of the overarching direction.”
Facebook is also going to post more information about how a feature called Secret Conversations works, since it has been in the service since 2016, but can be hard to locate and activate.
Additionally, Facebook is talking about banning Messenger accounts that aren’t linked to regular Facebook profiles, some of which are used for crime and other illicit purposes.
“We’re considering a registration process where prospective Messenger users will only be able to sign up for Messenger by creating or logging into a Facebook account,” a Facebook spokesperson said.
Facebook also plans to implement safety measures that will remind users to report contacts from unwanted parties as well as ask them to send transcripts of the texts to Facebook, which would ban the users and report them to the authorities.