Report: Facebook Is Fighting a Demand to 'Wiretap' Messenger in a Gang Case

By Jennings Brown on at

The US government is demanding for Facebook to “wiretap” its Messenger app so agents can hear a suspect’s spoken conversation, as a part of an investigation into the MS-13 gang, an international criminal gang based in America, according a report from Reuters.

Reuters is basing the report on accounts from three people reportedly briefed on the criminal probe. The anonymous sources told the news outlet that Facebook is contesting the demand from the US Department of Justice. One source said the matter stemmed from an investigation into the MS-13 gang, a frequent rhetorical focus for American president Donald Trump, when the president is demanding stronger immigration laws. In May, Trump referred to the gang as “animals” after Fresno County Sheriff, Margaret Mims, said state laws interfered with her ability to help Immigration Customs and Enforcement apprehend members of MS-13.

The investigation that led to this Messenger case began in Fresno in the US state of California, Reuters reports.

The US Department of Justice and Facebook declined to comment for the Reuters report, and Facebook did not respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment. Later, when reached by Gizmodo, Facebook again declined to comment on the matter.

A federal judge reportedly heard the case in California earlier this month. The Department of Justice has motioned to hold the social media company in contempt for denying to comply. No filings are public as the case is proceeding under seal. [Reuters]