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US DoJ wants Facebook to break Messenger encryption to snoop on suspects

FACEBOOK IS UNDER PRESSURE from the US government yet again, with the Department of Justice apparently urging it to crack open its end-to-end encryption in Messenger.

Unsurprisingly, the social network has pretty much said no, according to a Reuters report, and is contesting the DoJ’s demand.

Sources familiar with the legal wrangling being brought against Facebook informed Reuters that the DoJ’s demand to break Messenger encryption stems from a desire to snoop on the ongoing conversations of a suspect in a criminal investigation related to the MS-13 gang.

Facebook is apparently being held in contempt of court for refusing to carry out the request to break encryption and enable the surveillance to be carried out.

Other than the obvious implication to privacy, Facebook refused to smash its own encryption as it argued that doing so would require it to rewrite the code relied upon by all of its Messenger users. Or it would need to hack the government’s current target suspect; quite an ask.

There’s not a great deal of information on how the court case is proceeding as its currently under seal at a federal court in California, so no public filings are available.

If you’re getting a tingle of deja vu, that’s because you’ve heard this situation before with Apple’s legal battle with the FBI over lifting the encryption on an iPhone used by a gunman in the San Bernardino shootings of late 2015.

At the time, Apple big boss Tim Cook compared the demand to put a backdoor into iPhone software as the “equivalent of cancer” as it would degrade the privacy of iPhone users and set a dangerous precedent for government snooping.

The case caused a degree of controversy in the tech community, with Bill Gates saying Apple should comply with the FBI but others, like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, declaring Apple should not acquiesce with Mulder and Scully types.

We’ll have to just wait and see what result the court case between the DoJ and Facebook yields, but it looks like governments aren’t going to stop trying to besiege the privacy option tech companies offer their customers. µ

Further reading

Source : Inquirer

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Founder and Editor-in-Chief of 'Professional Hackers India'. Technology Evangelist, Security Analyst, Cyber Security Expert, PHP Developer and Part time hacker.

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