Facebook knows if it wants to keep users happy, it needs to keep our information secure. That’s the real reason the company goes out of its way to strengthen privacy rules: it doesn’t want its image damaged by the kind of scandal that has rocked it for the past year. But according to an exclusive report from Reuters, Facebook may be about to receive one of its stiffest challenges yet from the U.S. government.
According to the report, the government is trying to force Facebook to break its own encryption for Facebook Messenger. Law enforcement officials are trying to listen in to a suspect’s voice conversations as part of a criminal investigation into a MS-13 gang member. However, Facebook is contesting the issue in court against the Department of Justice.
This case bears many similarities to a 2016 incident that saw Apple resist law enforcement’s efforts to break into an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters. And much like that case, there are many thorny ethical issues at play. Is it worth sacrificing user privacy for the sake of a criminal investigation? Could Facebook make exceptions, and if so, where would it draw the line? With all of Facebook’s privacy errors over the past several years, it’s difficult to trust it to do the right thing. But at least the company is battling in court to protect the privacy of our info.