Encrypted Messaging Puts Children at Risk, Commissioner Warns

Encryption of online messages could make it harder to police child abuse online, the children’s commissioner for England has warned.

End-to-end encryption is a privacy feature making it impossible for anyone except the sender and recipient to read sent messages.

It also prevented police from gathering evidence to prosecute child abusers. But digital rights groups see it as an essential part of online privacy. Facebook, one of the most popular messaging apps children use, already offers end-to-end encryption for Whatsapp. It has added an opt-in version to its Messenger service and Instagram.

A new report showed 60% of eight-year-olds and 90% of 12-year-olds used online messaging apps, despite the apps having an age restriction of 13 or older.

Over a third of children surveyed said they received a message that made them feel uncomfortable. One in 10 talk to strangers online, and one in 20 have shared videos or photos of themselves with strangers.

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