Law Enforcement Officials Try To Warn Facebook Off Its Encryption Plans

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FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks Friday at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C., during a summit on warrant-proof encryption and its impact on child exploitation cases. Mark Wilson/Getty Images hide caption

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Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Justice Department is asking that Facebook hold off on its plans to fully encrypt its messaging services. In an open letter to the company's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, federal law enforcement officials and their counterparts in the U.K. and Australia said the end-to-end encryption proposal would block their access to users' communications and interfere with their "ability to stop criminals and abusers in their tracks."

At a summit Friday at the department's headquarters in Washington, D.C., FBI Director Christopher Wray said court-authorized investigators must be able to view suspects' communications — particularly to protect children from predators who film and disseminate images of sexual abuse.

"If we don't take action and do something soon to address the lawful access problem, it's going to be too late. And we're going to lose the ability to find those kids who need to be rescued, we're going to lose the ability to find the bad guys who need to be arrested and stopped, and we're going to lose the ability to keep some of the most vulnerable people we serve safe from harm," he told the audience. "And we just cannot let that happen."