The Trump administration is demanding Facebook open up its encrypted messaging software and let law enforcement snoop on conversations.
The effort is being kept secret, according to Reuters.
The previously unreported case in a federal court in California is proceeding under seal, so no filings are publicly available, but the three people told Reuters that Facebook is contesting the U.S. Department of Justice’s demand.
The move will prompt more people to flee the platform.
In the second quarter of 2018 Facebook lost around a million users in Europe alone and it’s not adding users in North America. This invariably happens when a government begins telling people how to run their business. It also happens when a corporation harvests user data and sells it. Both the government and tech corporations are destroying what has become an essential communication platform.
The feds want Zuckerberg’s techies to rewrite code for his Messenger and WhatsApp so they can spy on user conversations without a warrant.
The judge in the Messenger case heard arguments on Tuesday on a government motion to hold Facebook in contempt of court for refusing to carry out the surveillance request, according to the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
WhatsApp has come under fire over the last couple of years. Authorities say the messenger app is used by terrorists and more recently the drug gang MS-13. The gang continues to work its way into Trump’s pronouncements on border security and arguments for a fantastical wall that will never be built.
The potential impact of the judge’s coming ruling is unclear. If the government prevails in the Facebook Messenger case, it could make similar arguments to force companies to rewrite other popular encrypted services such as Signal and Facebook’s billion-user WhatsApp, which include both voice and text functions, some legal experts said.
The government wants to outlaw encryption. It wants to sacrifice your privacy—such as it is on a platform linked to the CIA—and use national security as a pretext to know everything about you, even more than you know about yourself.
It is important to note why the government collects all this data. The primary reason is to head off any serious challenge to its monopoly of power. It monitors foreign friends and foes alike. It has surveilled the American people for a long time, beginning with telegrams at the turn of the last century. It intercepted land mail and snooped on telephone conversations. It has spent billions on technology specifically designed for surveillance.
The American people are addicted to a near perfect surveillance technology. In most instances, this really isn’t a problem. Many people, maybe most will say they’re not doing anything illegal beyond speeding and fudging income tax forms. If it stops terrorists it’s worth the compromise, they argue.
Many people say they have nothing to hide.
Americans no longer believe in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Millions have no idea what it is. Millions have been trained through public education to believe government is necessary. It’s not even a necessary evil anymore, simply necessary.
The average Joe or Jane have nothing to worry about. The government doesn’t care if they order a pizza with a smart phone using wireless encryption for the transaction. However, it does care when they organize an anti-government protest online and use encrypted messaging to coordinate the exercise of what used to be a constitutional right.
They’re incrementally taking us down the road to ultimate tyranny.
The surprising—and maybe not so surprising—fact is most Americans will surrender their rights, not simply in the name of security but also to feed their addiction to electronic tracking devices that double as phones and internet connections.