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US government loses court battle to force Facebook to listen in on Messenger calls

US government loses court battle to force Facebook to listen in on Messenger calls
The Siliconreview
29 September, 2018

The United States law enforcement authorities have just lost a court case that would have forced Facebook to wiretap calls made on its Messenger application. This case was filed by FBI and state law enforcement authorities responsible for the investigations into the notorious MS-13 gang, which operates mainly in North America. The gang is responsible for numerous murders, extortion, violence, drug peddling and so on. The investigators most likely have found out that the gang uses Facebook’s Messenger app for communicating amongst themselves.

The case was filed in Fresno, California and its result could spell difficulty for the authorities. One of the federal agents on the case admitted that it was not possible for the law to monitor calls made on the app. Unlike WhatsApp, which features end-to-end encryption to prevent listening in on calls, the Messenger application has no such privacy measures and can be wiretapped, with a signed court order.

The law in the United States mandates telecommunication companies to allow law enforcement agencies to wiretap calls and intercept messages. But calls made on Messenger are done using VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) and fall outside the scope of the law. Observers believe that it is this loophole of sorts that the court could not circumvent and so ruled in favor of Facebook.