It's no longer possible to rely 100% on ads to keep our organization going. If you believe in why Films For Action exists, we hope you'll become a supporter on Patreon. A monthly donation of $1, $3, $5 or more per month will really help!
US Department of Justice Targets Whatsapp - Founder Fights Back
Government is demanding the messaging service build code to decrypt secure communications in criminal investigation
US Department of Justice Targets Whatsapp - Founder Fights Back
By Nadia Prupis / commondreams.org
Mar 15, 2016

The U.S. government has a new target in its war against privacy: WhatsApp.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has obtained a wiretap order to acquire communications sent in real time through the Facebook-owned messaging service, which began implementing end-to-end encryption in 2014, the digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) said on Sunday in response to reporting from the New York Times.

It's the latest development in a growing fight over privacy rights and national security as the government continues its attempt to force Apple to decrypt the iPhone contents of suspected San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook. Apple has resisted the order on the grounds that it would violate users' privacy rights and set a dangerous precedent for government power.

As EFF staff attorney Nate Cardozo wrote in a blog post on Sunday, the move against WhatsApp "proves that our worst fears were right."

Thus far, the wiretap—which the DOJ obtained for an ongoing criminal investigation—is demanding that WhatsApp hand over encrypted information, which the company does not have the software to access. That means the DOJ has not yet decided whether to pursue an additional court order to force WhatsApp to build decryption code, Cardozo said.

"Presumably, that second order would look similar to the San Bernardino order and direct WhatsApp to write code that would break its own encryption and allow it to provide plain text in response to the wiretap order," he wrote.

However, reporting by the Guardian on Monday indicates that WhatsApp has no plans of backing down. The company will reportedly expand its security measures within the coming weeks so that voice calls will also be protected by encryption.

The Guardian writes:

WhatsApp already offers Android and iPhone users encrypted messaging. In the coming weeks, it plans to offer users encrypted voice calls and encrypted group messages, two people familiar with the matter said. That would make WhatsApp, which is free to download,very difficult for authorities to tap.

Unlike many encrypted messaging apps, WhatsApp hasn’t pushed the security functions of the service as a selling point to users. [Jan] Koum, its founder, has said users should be able to expect that security is a given, not a bonus feature.

Facebook, Google, and Snapchat have also made plans to increase privacy technology in their respective messaging systems, according to the reporting.

The upgrades were underway long before the iPhone battle began. However, Koum expressed support for Apple after CEO Tim Cook announced the company would fight the decryption order in court, writing on his Facebook page, "Our freedom and liberty are at stake."


Photo: Luis/flickr/cc

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License

0.0 ·
0
Featured Films
The Staging Post: Courageous People Never Give Up! (2017)
61 min The Staging Post follows two Afghan Hazara refugees, Muzafar and Khadim. Stuck in Indonesia after Australia 'stopped the boats' and facing many years in limbo, they built a community and started the school which inspired a refugee education revolution. A real-life...
Inhabit: A Permaculture Perspective (2015)
92 min Humanity is more than ever threatened by its own actions; we hear a lot about the need to minimize footprints and to reduce our impact. But what if our footprints were beneficial? What if we could meet human needs while increasing the health and well-being of our...
Within Reach (2013)
87 min Within Reach explores one couple's pedal-powered search for a place to call home. Mandy and Ryan gave up their jobs, cars, and traditional houses to 'bike-pack' 6500 miles around the USA seeking sustainable community. Rather than looking in a traditional neighborhood, they...
Schooling the World (2010)
66 min If you wanted to change an ancient culture in a generation, how would you do it? You would change the way it educates its children. The U.S. Government knew this in the 19th century when it forced Native American children into government boarding schools. Today, volunteers...
Fall and Winter (2013)
102 min This stunning film takes you on a hypnotic journey, reaching to the past to understand the origins of the catastrophic environmental transitions we now face. Over two years, director Matt Anderson traveled 16,000 miles to document firsthand our modern industrial world and the...
The Economics of Happiness (2011)
65 min Economic globalization has led to a massive expansion in the scale and power of big business and banking. It has also worsened nearly every problem we face: fundamentalism and ethnic conflict; climate chaos and species extinction; financial instability and unemployment. There...
Trending Today


Love Films For Action? Become a Patron!

Our Patreon campaign is now live! We hope you'll be among the first to support this new direction for Films For Action. The goal is to go 100% ad-free by next year and become 100% member supported. A monthly pledge of just $1 -5 per month x a few thousand awesome people will ensure we can continue our work and grow our impact across the world. Click here to join.

Join us on Facebook
US Department of Justice Targets Whatsapp - Founder Fights Back