The U.K. Government’s Latest Encryption Fearmongering Relies on Child Sex-Trafficking Panics

In a new campaign to weaken encryption, the British government wants to exploit parents’ fear of predatory children.

Rolling StoneJames Ball reported on Saturday that the United Kingdom’s Home Office, the British equivalent of America’s Department of Justice (the British equivalent), had planned a multi-pronged public relations attack. This attack launched todayThe Home Office announced its partnership with several charities as part of a campaign called “No Place to Hide”, which will “urge tech companies to place children’s safety top on their platforms.”

“Right now,” an adAccording to the “No Place to Hide Campaign”, “some social media platforms can detect child sexual abuse online and report it to authorities.” However, some companies are preparing to implement end-to-end encryption which will make it even more difficult.

End-to end encryption protects everyone but sender and receiver of electronic communications. The information being sent is not visible to third parties. Third parties cannot see the contents of messages or communications.

Encryption protects individuals as well as institutions against outsiders intercepting sensitive information, including malicious hackers. This is an essential tool to help us protect ourselves.

Because of its nature, encryption makes it more difficult for police to spy on secret information. Many governments across the globe would be happy to shut it down. As have Australia, the United States and many other countries, the United Kingdom has been attacking end-to–end encryption for years.

Nearly all cybersecurity professionals agree that hacking end-to–end encryption in order to provide government officials with “backdoors” to bypass it would make everyone’s privacy less secure. Increase crime. However, officials in government deliberately downplay these risks to convince the public that weakening encryption will benefit the public.

According to Rolling StoneAccording to’s reports, the British Home Office intends to harness fears over child predators in order to rally public support against Facebook’s plans for end-to-end encryption of its Messenger app. According to reports, the Home Office has allocated 534,000 pounds ($725,000) towards its anti-encryption campaign.

Rolling StoneYou can also read these reports

The plans include a media blitz, campaign efforts from UK charities and law enforcement agencies, calls to action for the public to contact tech companies directly, and multiple real-world stunts—some designed to make the public “uneasy.”…

One key slide notes that “most of the public have never heard” of end-to-end encryption—adding that this means “people can be easily swayed” on the issue. Slide 2 also states that privacy and safety must not be debated in the campaign.

The last observation is very telling. The latest campaign against encryption is clearly driven by fearmongering. According to Rolling StoneOne ad proposed would show a child and an actor (both actors) sitting in a box. The adult will look “knowingly” at child to suggest predatory behaviour. The campaign is intended to reach people already obsessed with sex-traffickers and the kind of people they see everywhere.

Privacy activist and tech organizations have been pushing back. Open Rights Group (UK-based) is dedicated to protecting privacy online and free speech. a counter-advertisementNoting just how criminals will enjoy the British government’s plan to weaken encryption.

Open Rights Group warns users that “if Signal and WhatsApp crack encryption to allow you to read your messages”, and “it will become possible for cyber criminals and hackers to also read them,” in an ad.