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The US government wants Facebook to break the encryption on a user’s data

August 20, 2018

The social network is reportedly pushing back on the request.

The news: According to Reuters, the US Department of Justice is attempting to force Facebook to break the encryption in its Messenger app for a California federal court case.

What they want: While the court case details aren’t public, sources close to the case are reporting that law enforcement wants to listen to voice conversations made through the app by people related to the MS-13 gang. Essentially, they are requesting an assist in a wiretap of Facebook Messenger.

The controversy: Tech companies like Apple have long resisted law enforcement’s attempts to bypass their security standards. While Facebook typically hands over information to authorities, in this case the ruling would require a complete overhaul of the app—and could set a precedent for other encrypted chat applications, including the Facebook-owned WhatsApp.

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Illustration by Rose Wong

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