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US authorities seek access to Facebook encrypted messaging

Posted at 4:04 PM, Oct 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-03 17:04:48-04

NEW YORK (AP) - U.S. Attorney General William Barr wants Facebook to give law enforcement a way to read encrypted messages sent by users, re-igniting tensions between tech companies and law enforcement.

Facebook's WhatsApp already has end-to-end encryption, meaning that even Facebook cannot read the text of messages. Facebook plans to extend that protection to Messenger and Instagram Direct.

While law enforcement wants a way to read messages analogous to wiretaps for phone calls, security experts say giving police such access makes messaging insecure for everyone.

Barr will make the request to Facebook in a letter with counterparts from the U.K. and Australia as well as U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan. A copy of the latter, dated this Friday, was obtained by The Associated Press.

BuzzFeed News reported on the letter earlier.