Secret Court Order Demands Facebook Build Surveillance Backdoor

The ACLU filed a motion to find out what went on in a secret court case where the US Department of Justice tried to make Facebook give it unencrypted access to Messenger calls.

Claims first emerged about the secret filings in August. The ACLU says the Department of Justice tried to have Facebook held in contempt of court for refusing, but the proceedings were secret so no one knows.

In a filing, the ACLU, the EFF and Riana Pfefferkorn are trying to get that secrecy removed. The ACLU said it wants “legal arguments and analysis” not technical evidence. Saying they, “would not object to appropriate redactions made to protect any details that would hamper legitimate law enforcement investigations.”

The ACLU continued that the, “need for transparency is especially true when it comes to surveillance, where the government has a track record of hiding from public oversight.” They want any sealed docket sheets, sealing requests, and the associated rulings.

Facebook has always said that it can’t decrypt Messenger conversations because it doesn’t hold any of the keys involved, the user has control of those keys. Changing that would require a new system, to decrypt messages on their way through Facebook.

The ACLU warned that other companies will inevitably be asked to build backdoors and without public access to these decisions, their will be much less that anyone can do to stop it.



Image adapted from: “Random Video Surveillance” by Jay Tamboli is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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