SAN FRANCISCO: A US judge on Monday (February 12) rejected the offer of two civil rights groups who had tried to force the publication of documents describing a secret US government effort to force Facebook to decipher voice conversations between users on their Messenger app.
The problem emerged in a joint Federal and State investigation of the MS-13 band's activities in Fresno, California, which revolve around the end-to-end encryption used by Facebook to protect calls from its Messenger service from the 39; interception.
End-to-end encryption means that only the two parties in the conversation can access it.
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Groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, have claimed that the public's right to know the state of cryptography law has surpassed any reason that the US Department of Justice could have to protect a criminal probe or method of application of the law.
The Washington Post newspaper also filed a legal notice to unveil the documents.
However, US District Judge Lawrence O & # 39; Neill in Fresno has ruled that the documents describe sensitive law enforcement techniques and releasing a drafted version would be impossible.
"The materials in question in this case relate to techniques that, if disclosed publicly, would jeopardize law enforcement efforts in many, if not all, future wiretapping interceptions", wrote O & # 39; Neill, adding that the criminal proceedings underlying was still ongoing.
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A representative of ACLU and a spokesperson for the United States Department of Justice declined to comment.
Both the Justice Department and the Facebook topics in response to the ACLU were kept secret. However, O & # 39; Neill wrote that Facebook has supported ACLU requests to disagree, with limited reductions, while the government has opposed them.
Neither US prosecutors nor Facebook have publicly commented on the case of Messenger due to a court gag order. But Reuters reported last year that investigators have failed in a court effort to force Facebook to intercept Messenger's voice calls.
US telecommunications companies are required to grant police access to calls under federal law, but many apps that rely solely on internet infrastructure are exempt. Facebook claimed that Messenger was covered by this exemption, sources told Reuters.
The public court in the Fresno case showed that the government was intercepting all the normal Mexican phone calls and messages among the accused gang members.
An affidavit from the FBI quoted three Messenger calls that the investigators could not hear. Participants in those calls were arrested anyway.