1(630)802-8605 Ravi.das@bn-inc.net

As I look through all of the blogs, I have written in the last few months this morning, I think I have written on just about anything and everything that is out there in Cybersecurity.  I’ve written about Ransomware to Phishing to accessing the Dark Web, and of late, attacks on Critical Infrastructure. 

But there is one item I have been purposely ignoring.  And, that is Facebook.  Earlier this year, and even going into the summer, I did write about when I saw something.

But now, it has come to the point where I get tired of seeing Facebook.  It’s probably the second most popular news item that is out there, after how many businesses have been impacted by a Cyberattack.  At first, it was interesting to me see what was going on with it, but now I just totally ignore it. 

To be honest, I really don’t use Facebook all that much.  I log into it from time to time to see some friendly pictures and what people are up to.

And, if anything earth shattering is happening with me, yea, then I post something.  But in my opinion, in terms of a business perspective, Facebook is useless.  Of course, this depends upon what you do, but for me, it hasn’t brought too much value to it.  But for today’s post, I am going to backtrack, and actually post something about Facebook.  No, it isn’t about what lawsuit the company is facing now, or how many accounts have been hacked into.

But rather, it is more of a controversial issue, in which I actually side with Facebook.  So, let’s get started.  Some of the recent news headlines have posted content that the Attorney General of New York, William Barr, is planning to ask the CEO of Facebook, the ever-famous Mark Zuckerberg to stop his plans for implementing encryption into the Chat Messenger functionality. 

For those of you who may not know what it is all about, encryption is the process of scrambling a message so that it remains a garbled state until the receiving party gets it and unscrambles back into a decipherable state.

Encryption is actually a subset of a field called “Cryptography”, and it can get much more complicated than this (believe me, I have actually written and published stuff about this).  So, why does the NY AG want to halt this new security move by Facebook? 

Well, they are primarily concerned about how law enforcement will be able to access any form of communications, if they need to, in case they get some leads or tips about some sort of terrorist activity that could potentially take place.

But, it’s not just the United States Federal Government that is taking an interest in blocking this move by Zuckerberg.  There are countries thrown into this mix as well, and they include the likes of Australia and the United Kingdom.  Their point is as follows: “. . . that there is no reduction to user safety and without including a means for lawful access to the content of communications to protect our citizens . . .”.  (SOURCE:  https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/ryanmac/bill-barr-facebook-letter-halt-encryption). 

In fact, the leaders from these three countries (which include  Acting U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security; Priti Patel, the U.K.’s Secretary of State for the Home Department; and Peter Dutton, Australian Minister for Home Affairs) have even signed a formal letter requesting Zuckerberg to delay his plans for encrypting Facebook based communications.  More details of this plan can be seen here at this link:

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/ryanmac/bill-barr-facebook-letter-halt-encryption

It’s not they are totally opposed to this plan, but the political leaders from these countries simply want assurances that they can get access (via a court order, of course) to a conversation if their respective law enforcement agencies feel that there is some criminal activity going on. 

But of course, Zuckerberg is completely opposed to this idea, as he feels it is his duty, without question, to protect all levels of communications with his subscriber base. 

Probably the biggest catalyst for this move is the recent Cambridge Analytica data breach.  But it is important to keep in mind that it is not just the Facebook platform that remains in question, rather, it also includes its other subsidiaries, which include Instagram and What’s App. 

Collectively, all three of these platforms represent some 2+ billion subscribers on a global basis. In fact, Zuckerberg is so vehement about this, that he even published an open forum letter about it to his entire user base.  That letter can be seen here:

But of course, as the NY AG and other political leaders announced their plans to block Facebook, the other side drew out their own fire as well, which are the privacy advocacy groups.  The biggest catalyst here has been the episode back in 2016 when a certain Federal Judge ordered Apple to help the FBI release the contents from an iPhone that was discovered in the horrible shooting incident that took place in San Bernardino, CA, in 2015. 

Apple still defied the order, and somehow or another, the FBI was able to retrieve the content in question.

Some of the privacy advocacy groups that are chiming hard and heavy into this matter include the likes of Access Now, and Privacy International.  The former in a tweet stated the following:  “Governments demanding that Facebook suspend its #encryption rollout is an affront to digital rights and user security online.”  (SOURCE:  https://twitter.com/accessnow/status/1179890734549229569).  The latter came out with the following remark: “. . . any government interference with encryption “a step backward for privacy.”  (SOURCE:  https://threatpost.com/ag-barr-facebook-dont-encrypt-messaging/148913/).

My Thoughts On This

I have to be honest; I am on neutral grounds with this one.  On the Facebook side, I fully support the efforts that Zuckerberg is trying to do by making all of these platforms safer for all of his subscribers.  After all, he is sincerely trying to come back into the good graces of everybody, after all of the fiascos that he and his company are in and will probably face well into the future. 

But at the same time, I also see the need for the Federal Government to be able to gain control of a conversation if they have enough evidence to prove that something criminally big is going to happen.

But of course, they cannot just go in and immediately take over a subscriber’s account.  They have to have enough legal evidence, and they must obtain a court order (preferably at the Federal level) before they can literally seize an individual’s or group’s account.  In my opinion, if Facebook and all of its platforms were not such a huge dumping ground for expressing all of the political turmoil these days, perhaps these steps by the Federal Government probably would not have to be taken.

But all of this simply reflects the times that we are currently in.  In this regard, it is only Facebook that I have come across that is been at the cross hairs of so much of controversy.  I have not seen this hardly as much with the other Social Media sites, such as that of Twitter and LinkedIn.  Perhaps Facebook should create another independent platform in which all of forms of political hatred or support can be aired.

Let the original Facebook platform be what was originally designed to do in the first place-be a place where people can share happy thoughts and messages with friends and family.  But if Facebook were to do this, then these Privacy Rights will all come out saying that Zuckerberg is blocking free speech.  In the end, there probably will not be any sort of happy medium struck – this is what Facebook has gotten itself into.

It will always brew itself in controversy and will probably do so for a very long time to come.