IGF 2023 WS #534 End-to-End Encryption: The good, the bad, and the ugly.


Cybersecurity, Cybercrime & Online Safety
Child Online Safety
New Technologies and Risks to Online Security

Organizer 1: Michael Tunks, 🔒Internet Watch Foundation
Organizer 2: Susie Hargreaves, 🔒Internet Watch Foundation
Organizer 3: Andrew Campling, 🔒

Speaker 1: Julie Inman Grant, Government, Asia-Pacific Group
Speaker 2: Vittorio Bertola, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 3: Keily Blair, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)
Speaker 4: Ian Stevenson, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Michael Tunks, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)

Online Moderator

Susie Hargreaves, Civil Society, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Andrew Campling, Private Sector, Western European and Others Group (WEOG)


Round Table - 60 Min

Policy Question(s)

• What are the benefits and consequences of deploying end-to-end encryption on popular messaging applications with large numbers of child users?
• How do we balance the right to privacy and the right to ensure children are protected online within End-to-End encrypted environments?
• How do policymakers set the right conditions to ensure that both End-to-End Encryption is protected, but also safe for users?

What will participants gain from attending this session? • To explain the differences between “standard encryption” and “End-to-End Encryption”
• Highlight the benefits strong encryption has bought to the internet, including cases where it is widely used online.
• Explain the concerns about implementing End-to-End Encryption and the impact it will have, particularly for the protection of children.
• Discuss and debate where encryption deployment has benefit to internet users and where its deployment may be more problematic.
• Discuss and debate what steps could be taken to preserve both privacy and safety within encrypted environments.


End-to-End Encryption is a debate which seems to stir the emotion of everyone and no one when it comes to discussions of who should be responsible for governing the internet. It is often presented in a very binary way; you can either have privacy online or give up some of that privacy in order to keep people safe online.

To those with a stake in the future of internet governance, whether as a privacy advocate concerned about the protection of journalism in undemocratic regimes, or as a child protection specialist concerned about what happens when the lights go out on the detection of child sexual abuse online, we must move beyond these binary discussions and so called “choices” and debate what sort of future we want online.
The purpose of this session is to explore the clear benefits that strong encryption brings online. Explain the differences between standard encryption and end-to-end encryption and to have an honest conversation about how this technology is deployed. This discussion is designed to acknowledge the good, the grey areas that exist and follow the story to its natural conclusion- the ugly, millions of child sexual abuse images potentially being trade via online service providers without any controls.

The reality is, that many members of the public are unaware of the measures that exist today to protect them from spam, malware, child sexual abuse and terrorism. But if we pursue end-to-end encryption at all costs, many of the systems in place that are currently working and operational today, simply will not exist in years to come and it is through this forum that we explore potential solutions to these issues, where it is possible to have both strong privacy preserving technologies, alongside those that keep us safe online.

Expected Outcomes

A report will be published summarising the discussion and different points of views that exist on the topic of End-to-End Encryption.

The aim of the session is to provide a secure and safe environment, where a variety of views on the topic of End-to-End encryption can be aired, with both the child protection and privacy sides of the debate being aired and debated.

At this stage, there is no pre-determined view on the outcomes that may be achieved during the session, but the purpose of this session will be to bring regulators, industry, government and civil society together to discuss how regulation, child safety and freedom of expression co-exist with technologies such as end-to-end encryption and explore its positives and less positive impacts.

Hybrid Format: At the start of the session, the moderator (online and offline) will ensure that participants both in the room and online are ready to start the session. We will ensure that we are clear on the sessions aims and objectives at the start, by adding these both to the opening remarks of the person chairing the discussion on site and by adding them into the chat in the online platform. The Chair will make it clear that those participating online, will be able to type into the chat function which will help guide the discussion, which will be facilitated between the onsite and online moderator. We will use tools like menti-meter, to encourage participation in the session, gauge opinions on the topics we are discussing and can be used to help facilitate the general feel in the room which can be used in the final report that is produced.