Privacy Rights Campaigners warn against Home Office’s Orwellian war on Privacy

Responding to Home Secretary Priti Patel’s remarks asssociating end-to-end encryption with child abuse, delivered at a roundtable organised by the NSPCC, Jim Killock, the Executive Director of the Open Rights Group, said: 

“Encryption, and end-to-end encryption, are basic security protocols deployed every minute. These protocols are popular and growing because users want privacy from snooping eyes as well as security and protection from fraud, scams, and abuse of their data.

“The Home Secretary’s position on end-to-end encrypted messaging contrasts strongly with global standards, including that of UNICEF – the United Nations agency involved in protecting children around the world – which has emphasised that end-to-end Encryption provides benefits for children and adults’ privacy and their right to freedom of expression. [1]  Calls to remove end-to-end encryption, as a means to protect children, disrespect children’s right to privacy as much as that of adults.

“The Home Office’s notorious instincts to use children’s safety as leverage to create a surveillance state, and demand they can read everyone’s private messages all the time on the presumption of criminality, is on full display here. This is 2021, not 1984.”



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Notes to the Editor: 

[1]: UNICEF, the Global agency involved in protecting children around the world has stated: 

“There is no equivocating that child sexual abuse can and is facilitated by the internet and that end to-end encryption of digital communication platforms appears to have significant drawbacks for the global effort to end the sexual abuse and exploitation of children. This includes making it more difficult to identify, investigate and prosecute such offences. Children have a right to be protected from sexual abuse and exploitation wherever it occurs, including online, and states have a duty to take steps to ensure effective protection and an effective response, including support to recover and justice.

At the same time, end-to-end encryption by default on Facebook Messenger and other digital communication platforms means that every single person, whether child or adult, will be provided with a technological shield against violations of their right to privacy and freedom of expression.” 

See UNICEF’s report on Encryption, Privacy and Children’s Right to Protection from Harm:’s_right_to_protection_from_harm.pdf