The DOJ is reportedly planning to push Facebook for backdoor access to encrypted messages

Polycount

TS Evangelist
Staff member

Improved privacy is almost always a good thing for the average consumer, and end-to-end encryption is one way to ensure that the principle is preserved across various messaging services. Unfortunately for Facebook, its efforts in this area may have hit a slight roadblock.

Earlier this year, Facebook announced its desire to bring end-to-end encryption to all of its messaging services, including Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp. Now, it looks like the US Department of Justice (DOJ) will ask the social media giant to adjust those plans. According to The New York Times, Attorney General William P. Barr aims to pressure Facebook into creating a "backdoor" in its end-to-end encryption systems.

This backdoor would allegedly be used to give government investigators the ability to browse communications for criminal activities; most notably those relating to terrorism, high-level organized crime, and child trafficking, according to a letter obtained by the Times.

Putting a stop to those activities is certainly a noble pursuit, but any sort of backdoor in Facebook's messaging applications could have negative implications for the entire userbase. Our era is one of constant connectivity, and privacy is already an elusive goal -- opening up encrypted communications to government authorities won't make things any easier, particularly not when those backdoors could be exploited by other third parties.

The privacy versus safety dilemma is one modern humans have struggled with for decades. For one side to thrive, the other must suffer, or so it usually seems. We'll have to wait and see which side of the debate Facebook will fall on this Friday, when Barr and his colleagues are expected to press the company for an encryption backdoor.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has already demonstrated his willingness to fight the US government in the "breaking up big tech" battle, so perhaps that policy will extend to privacy matters as well.

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SirDigby

TS Evangelist
Platinum
Why would the DOJ want it public that they'd have a backdoor? Long gone are the days when government departments would just do the agreement under the table, or hack their way in.
They weren't better days, but I'm just confused why DOJ would just publicly announce it...
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
Why would the DOJ want it public that they'd have a backdoor? Long gone are the days when government departments would just do the agreement under the table, or hack their way in.
They weren't better days, but I'm just confused why DOJ would just publicly announce it...
Fear is a method of control - and even with the supposed IT expertise in agencies like this, it goes to show, IMO, that the higher ups have no clue. What the reality of the desire is, we may never know, however, I would not be surprised if it also contains at least those two elements.
 

mbrowne5061

TS Evangelist
Why would the DOJ want it public that they'd have a backdoor? Long gone are the days when government departments would just do the agreement under the table, or hack their way in.
They weren't better days, but I'm just confused why DOJ would just publicly announce it...
Its not about the backdoor, its about the 'tough on terrorism' feather in the political hat.
 
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jobeard

TS Ambassador
  1. first principle: Just like we (security professionals) never allow a single user-logon to be shared, A security system with two 'secretes( passwords)' is no secrete at all.
second, the request clearly demonstrates that the DOJ doesn't understand the mathematical nature of a key -> creates the encryption and thus, unlike a physical lock can have multiple keys, a mathematical lock can only have one secrete key.
 
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Impudicus

TS Addict
Next up, Facebook gets sued. The entire history of all facebook members get messages get hacked. Everything released to the public. See what EVERYONE said at such and such website.