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NPCC responds to calls for end-to-end encryption roll out to include public protection measures

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The National Crime Agency (NCA) and police chiefs in Europe expressed their ‘deep’ concern that end-to-end encryption is being rolled out in a way that undermines their ability to investigate crime and keep the public safe.


In an agreed statement urgent action was called for the industry and governments to ensure public safety across technology platforms.

National Police Chiefs' Council Lead for Child Protection, Abuse and Investigation, Ian Critchley, said: “On average policing arrests 800 suspected offenders and safeguards 1000 children a month in relation to child sexual exploitation (CSE) offences.


“End-to-end encryption (E2EE) will have a dangerous impact on child safety. A recent study by Protect children highlighted how child sex offenders would groom and exploit children across on to encrypted platforms. This means Tech companies like Meta will no longer be able to see messages from online groomers which contain child sexual abuse material and therefore they won’t be able to refer it to law enforcement.


“Being able to identify the ways that criminals are targeting and grooming our children and vulnerable people online is vital. Not only can this evidence help secure prosecutions but it can also identify victims so police can bring an end to their exploitation.


“By introducing end to end encryption without the necessary safeguards for children that society rightly expects, social media companies are putting the safety of children at risk. They are ignoring warnings from child safety charities and experts. There is a moral responsibility on companies to ensure this does not happen.


“Policing is not against privacy or encryption but it cannot be implemented at the expense of a child’s safety. We know children will always be online and that pedophiles will continue to go to those same online spaces to target, groom and abuse them. We know that the problem is increasing all the time and the introduction of E2EE will lead to more children becoming victims and having their lives destroyed by something that is preventable.


“Policing will not stop in its fight against those who commit these horrific crimes. We cannot do this alone, so while we continue to pursue and prosecute those who abuse and exploit children working closely with the NCA and our partner organisations, we repeat our call for much more to be done by tech companies.”


For more information visit the NCA website