News National Facebook encryption is contributing to child torture: AFP

Facebook encryption is contributing to child torture: AFP

The AFP commissioner says encrypted messaging is contributing to the rape of children. Photo: Getty
Twitter Facebook Reddit Pinterest Email

Facebook has been accused of contributing to the rape and torture of children.

Australian Federal Police commissioner Reece Kershaw blasted the tech giant for allowing pedophiles to hide behind end-to-end encryption.

“If I was running those companies, and you were going to contribute to the rape and torture of children, I can’t see why that’s a good thing,” he told the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday.

Mr Kershaw contrasted the social media company’s approach with Australian tech companies, who he said were co-operative in helping the AFP weed out criminals exploiting encrypted platforms.

“The tech companies here are excellent and have been very helpful and supportive of what we have been trying to achieve,” he said.

“I’m not that happy with, obviously, Facebook and others.”

Mr Kershaw said his officers would be further disadvantaged by tech companies planning to use even more secure communication methods.

“Pedophiles are counting down the days because they cannot wait,” he said.

He said Australians could no longer ignore news of child exploitation.

“As a country we need to be more outraged,” Mr Kershaw said.

He challenged Australians who opposed legislation giving law enforcement access to encrypted communications to explain it to victims of child exploitation.

“They may never get justice because technology has been designed to keep the identity of their monster a secret,” Mr Kershaw said.

The AFP has received more than 11,000 referrals about child exploitation so far this year.

Mr Kershaw believes the insidious crime is 10 times more prevalent in the shadows of the dark web.

He warned more Australians were accessing child pornography during the coronavirus pandemic.

“There are more people at home on their computers and more desperate people across the world,” he said.

Reece Kershaw wants Australians to be more outraged by the issue of encrypted messaging.

The AFP is increasingly vigilant to foreign interference in Australia, which security agencies believe has reached levels not seen since the Cold War.

“It’s here, it’s in our country,” Mr Kershaw said.

“Those that try to, under the auspices of a foreign principal, try to interfere in our systems and our processes, whether that’s commonwealth or state government, we will take action.”

The AFP is also focused on the growing threat of right-wing terrorism.

“We don’t discriminate on what the ideology is,” Mr Kershaw said.

“If you’re out there to harm through violence and try and murder Australians here or offshore then we’re going to come after you, no matter what you believe in.”

Mr Kershaw, who is nine months into the role, wants his officers to seize between $600 million and $1 billion worth of criminal assets over the next five years.

-with AAP