U.S. Attorney General William Barr has asked Facebook
In an open letter published on Friday, Barr implores the tech behemoth to delay its encrypted messaging plans until the government can figure out a way to monitor the effort and control its possible adverse effects for users.
"Companies cannot operate with impunity where lives and the safety of our children is at stake, and if Mr. Zuckerberg really has a credible plan to protect Facebook's more than two billion users it's time he let us know what it is," Mr. Barr stated in the letter.
Some of the concerns brought up by Barr include the use of encrypted messaging to share illicit images and media such as child pornography, a big issue currently surrounding WhatsApp and other encrypted messaging outlets. What's more is that this is an issue Facebook has already struggled with even without encryption.
"Security enhancements to the virtual world should not make us more vulnerable in the physical world," says the letter, which is also backed up by government officials in the United Kingdom and Australia. "Companies should not deliberately design their systems to preclude any form of access to content, even for preventing or investigating the most serious crimes."
Another issue is that privacy concerns have served as a roadblock to researchers who are trying to determine how social media influences democracies. This initiative was meant to be a huge project that would capitalize upon the treasure trove of data that tech companies have. However, investors are considering taking their money out of the project given concerns over privacy and the transmission of data. It is not clear whether Facebook is actually authorized to share such information with third parties, or if they ever will be allowed to.
On the topic, a spokesperson for Facebook said: "This is one of the largest sets of links ever to be created for academic research on this topic. We are working hard to deliver on additional demographic fields while safeguarding individual people's privacy."