As the case of the FBI against Apple continues to draw eyeballs and backing for both camps from various parties, Facebook and its WhatsApp service may have their own clash with the U.S. legal system. The Department of Justice is struggling with a case where a wiretap cannot be performed because of WhatsApp's encryption, which may see it attempt to force the company to weaken its security.
Over the past few weeks, discussions have been ongoing between the firms and the DOJ, “discussing how to proceed in a continuing criminal investigation in which a federal judge had approved a wiretap, but investigators were stymied by WhatsApp’s encryption,” as per the NewYorkTimes (via Ars).
Unfortunately it's hard to confirm elements of this case, as the legal proceedings themselves are under lock and key – though it is believed to not be a terrorism related case. However it does involve the ‘problem' of strong, consumer ready encryption preventing law enforcement from reading communications they might otherwise have access too.
Much like Apple and other tech firms, WhatsApp has, over the years since the Edward Snowden revelations, been beefing up its security to better protect the content of its customer's messages from nefarious actors. While the aims of the DOJ and security services may be noble, as with the Apple and FBI case, weakening any security threatens all members of the service.
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KitGuru Says: At this time, that number stands at over a billion people. That would put a lot of them at risk if security were forcibly tampered with to help solve one case.