Facebook Fights Off U.S. Forced Messenger Wiretap Attempt

In short: Facebook managed to fight off a United States government attempt at forcing the company to wiretap its Messenger app, one of the most popular communications tools on the planet, new sources claim. A judge at the Fresno-based U.S. District Court ruled Facebook doesn't have to comply with Washington's request, though the reasoning behind the decision remains unclear.

Background: The government's efforts meant to force Facebook to wiretap its omnipresent app became more aggressive this summer, with Washington previously asking for the social media giant to be held in contempt of court due to its refusal to comply with the request. The Menlo Park, California-based company remained adamant the demand is highly unreasonable as even if it wanted to fulfill it, doing so would require it to invest countless resources into completely rewriting Messenger with spying in mind. The order itself pertained to an account of a member of MS-13, a crime gang also known as Mara Salvatrucha, that the government wanted to wiretap in order to monitor encrypted calls made via Facebook's app. The three individuals participating in the contested calls are all currently in jail, awaiting trial in a case that also saw thirteen other alleged MS-13 members indicted.

Impact: The development marks a win in the Silicon Valley's broader fight against government monitoring requests that violate the privacy of their users. Proponents of the initiative argue that federal law enforcement agencies want to use isolated cases to set precedents they could later use to monitor the general public in an unreasonable manner, violating people's Fourth-Amendment rights. A similar struggle is currently ongoing in the United Kingdom, as well as many other countries across the world. While the government can still appeal the verdict, the fact that the prosecution already has a strong case against the indicted individuals suggests the verdict pertaining to Facebook's lack of cooperation with law enforcement officials is unlikely to change.

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About the Author

Dominik Bosnjak

Head Editor
Dominik started at AndroidHeadlines in 2016 and is the Head Editor of the site today. He’s approaching his first full decade in the media industry, with his background being primarily in technology, gaming, and entertainment. These days, his focus is more on the political side of the tech game, as well as data privacy issues, with him looking at both of those through the prism of Android. Contact him at [email protected]