Facebook Fights US Government Demand to Break Messenger Encryption in Criminal Case

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by MacRumors, Aug 18, 2018.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Facebook is contesting a demand from the U.S. government that it break the encryption of its popular Messenger app so that law enforcement can listen in to a suspect's conversations as part of an ongoing investigation into the MS-13 gang.

    The U.S. Department of Justice's demand is in relation to a case proceeding in a federal court in California that is currently under seal, so public files are unavailable. However, Reuters' sources said the judge in the case heard arguments on Tuesday on a government motion to hold Facebook in contempt of court for refusing to carry out the surveillance request.

    Facebook says it can only comply with the government's request if it rewrites the code relied upon by all its users to remove encryption or else hacks the government's current target, according to Reuters.

    Legal experts differed over whether the government would likely be able to force Facebook to comply. However, if the government gets its way in the case, experts say the precedent could allow it to make similar arguments to force other tech companies to compromise their encrypted communications services.

    Messaging platforms like Signal, Telegram, Facebook's WhatsApp and Apple's iMessage all use end-to-end encryption that prevents communications between sender and recipient from being accessed by anyone else, including the service providers.

    Tech companies have pushed back against previous attempts by authorities to break encryption methods, such as the FBI's request that Apple help it hack into the iPhone owned by Syed Farook, one of the shooters in the December 2015 attacks in San Bernardino.

    In February 2016, a U.S. federal judge ordered Apple to help the FBI, but Apple opposed the order in an open letter penned by Tim Cook, who said the FBI's request would set a "dangerous precedent" with serious implications for the future of smartphone encryption.

    Apple's dispute with the FBI ended on March 28, 2016 after the government found an alternate way to access the data on the iPhone with the help of a private contractor and withdrew the lawsuit.

    Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

    Article Link: Facebook Fights US Government Demand to Break Messenger Encryption in Criminal Case
  2. Kabeyun macrumors 68020


    Mar 27, 2004
    Eastern USA
    Opinions will obviously vary here, but one can’t support Apple in the San Bernardino shooter case and not back Facebook in this case. Or vice versa.
  3. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    After Facebook’s recent privacy scandal they are desperate to regain users’ trust. As a result this now means that they’ll be fighting these sorts of points ardently when they might not have before.

    It’s good to see a positive effect rise from their misconduct.
  4. BuddyTronic macrumors 6502a

    Jul 11, 2008
    If encryption is outlawed, only outlaws will have encryption.
  5. Kabeyun macrumors 68020


    Mar 27, 2004
    Eastern USA
    Maybe. But remember Facebook supported Apple in the encryption case and is part of the Reform Surveillance Coalition. So this position isn’t new.
  6. JosephAW macrumors 68020


    May 14, 2012
    I don't believe any of this. They probably already have them access years ago, this is just a publicity stunt between the government and FB that they agreeded to behind closed doors in order to feign a fight that they are trying to protect user's privacy.
  7. Pakaku macrumors 68020


    Aug 29, 2009
    Somehow I really doubt the Department of Justice would agree to hindering their own work just for the sake of helping a social media network look good...
  8. 4jasontv macrumors 68000

    Jul 31, 2011
    Do we still have the second amendment or did I miss something?
  9. I7guy macrumors Core


    Nov 30, 2013
    Gotta be in it to win it
    I'm supporting the stance, the government is entitled to get the messages, and decrypt them on their own, but don't create back doors. We all know where that would go.
    --- Post Merged, Aug 18, 2018 ---
    Same with apple in the San Bernadino case?
  10. 2010mini macrumors 601

    Jun 19, 2013
    US government wanting to ignore the constitution because it inconveniences them? I’m shocked.
  11. Mac-lover3 macrumors 6502a


    Dec 2, 2014
    I don’t say this often but yaaay go Facebook! Although this isn’t something entirely new for them.
  12. dannyyankou macrumors G3


    Mar 2, 2012
    Scarsdale, NY
    So if the government has a valid search warrant, work with Facebook on a case by case basis. Don’t break the encryption so the government can spy on us more. They already collect data on hundreds of millions of phone users
  13. darksithpro macrumors 6502a

    Oct 27, 2016
    Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.
  14. Sill macrumors 6502a

    Nov 14, 2014
    The DOJ should just call the CIA and ask for the info they want. Justice will end up having to "owe them a big one", but they'll get what they want.
  15. thisisnotmyname macrumors 68000


    Oct 22, 2014
    known but velocity indeterminate
    I'm not normally a fan of facebook but I applaud their backbone here. Good job facebook!
  16. scrapesleon macrumors 6502a


    Mar 30, 2017
    None of the amendments matter in these times people have no rights anymore
  17. bpcookson macrumors 6502


    Apr 6, 2012
    It would be critical to note that Apple’s prior defense hinged on the idea that code is protected as free speech, and you can’t force someone to write code just as you can’t force someone to say something.
  18. MacBH928 macrumors 68040


    May 17, 2008
    Not if Facebook has enough money to make the DoJ help them out with some image polishing.
  19. 4jasontv macrumors 68000

    Jul 31, 2011
    I get your sarcasm, but I don't think people understand that the right to keep and bare arms includes more than just guns. Any tool that citizens use to protect themselves should be classified as arms. That includes encryption.
  20. brueck macrumors regular

    Jun 15, 2010
    I Agreeded
  21. 69Mustang, Aug 18, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2018

    69Mustang macrumors 604


    Jan 7, 2014
    In between a rock and a hard place
    I dislike FB more than most. But what you're doing is "misremembering" and conflating. FB has traditionally been among the tech companies fighting against breaking encryption, along with Apple, Google, MS, etc. That can't be conflated with their usage/misuse of data. Two separate things. To suggest they're going to start fighting the gov't to improve their image paints an inaccurate picture.

    I think the company is pretty trash. That's based on what they actually do. No need to make up scenarios. They're bad enough all on their own.

    On topic: I hope the braintrust at FB understand they can't give in to these types of requests. The slope is way too freakin' slippery. Once the encryption door is opened, it doesn't get closed again. Fear mongering by the government is definitely not a reason to break encryption.
  22. Pangalactic macrumors 6502


    Nov 28, 2016
    Not hinder, they could have just stuck a deal with Facebook (especially since Zuck doesn't seem to have a strong personality that can oppose the government) - FB gives them the decryption keys, and they in return run a fake case for Facebook to regain their user trust.

    Reminds me also of the case with True Crypt. That used to be an open, independent encryption software for windows. Until one one day a mysterious message appeared that True Crypt is discontinuing their operations due to True Crypt being no longer necessary and that all users should switch to Bitlocker developed by windows ... Yeah

    The point being that this stuff REALLY happens, more often than you think
  23. benface macrumors regular

    Feb 28, 2012
    You watch too much TV.
  24. makitango macrumors regular

    Apr 15, 2012
    Nice to see how the government fails to convince even the most stupid citizens that they‘re the good guys. Like as if they couldn‘t give themselves a warrant leading to revealing the messages they warranted for.
  25. Ronlap macrumors regular


    Sep 7, 2007
    San Francisco Bay Area
    Give the files to law enforcement and let them have their own fun decrypting them.

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