Published on: August 16, 2022
Meta (formerly known as Facebook) announced plans to test a new secure storage feature for backups of users’ end-to-end encrypted chats on Messenger.
This announcement came after Meta turned over Messenger chat histories to Nebraska police as part of an investigation into an alleged illegal abortion. However, Meta spokesperson Andy Stone said that this feature has been in the works for a while and is not tied to the Nebraska case.
End-to-end encryption ensures that the sender and recipient can chat securely by scrambling data so that messages can only be read by the two parties. The secure storage feature will allow users to back up end-to-end encrypted Messenger messages in case they want to restore their previous conversations on a new device.
Meta will not be able to access any of these messages, as users can create a PIN, a generated code, or use a third-party cloud service in order to restore them.
The feature started to roll out on Android and iOS devices last week, but it is not yet available on the Messenger website. Additionally, Meta announced plans to expand its tests of end-to-end encrypted messages on Instagram.
“People want to trust that their online conversations with friends and family are private and secure,” Meta said in its release last week. “We’re working hard to protect your personal messages and calls with end-to-end encryption by default on Messenger and Instagram.”
The company has discussed having full-scale end-to-end encryption for its users since 2016. However, critics have noted that these security measures would make it much more difficult for law enforcement to crack down on child predators and pornographers.
At a “Lawful Access Summit” in 2019 (hosted by the Department of Justice), FBI Director Christopher Wray said Facebook would become a “dream come true for predators and child pornographers” if they deployed these security measures.
Meta added in its release that it is making progress toward the global unveiling of default end-to-end encryption for personal messages and calls in 2023.