The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU from the American Civil Liberties Union) submitted an application to open some court documents about the US government's attempt to force Facebook to create a backdoor in Facebook Messenger encryption.
The application relates to a legal case of the summer, for which the Ministry of Justice has sealed all the relevant documents.
The case was brought to light by Reuters and Washington Post during the autumn. This is an attempt by the Justice Department (DOJ) to obtain a federal court order that would legally oblige Facebook to add a backdoor to the encryption of Facebook Messenger's voice service.
The FBI wanted to gain access to the voice communications of its members MS-13, a gang active across North America. The FBI then reported that it already had access to the text messages, but could not watch Messenger's voice calls, which were encrypted.
The FBI failed to obtain the desired court order because Facebook refused to say that this was impossible, as they would have to spend too much money to rewrite the application from scratch.
Now, ACLU is asking an American court to reveal what happened in the secret court rooms that dealt with the case.
"A key element of our democratic system is that people must have a say in the laws that bind them," the ACLU said.
A critical legal dispute that may affect the private communications of millions of Americans was totally debated in the summer.
Forcing the DOJ to publicize the case, ACLU wants to create a legal precedent. By resolving the doctrine, the DOJ and the FBI will have to think very well before starting similar legal proceedings against other technology companies.
Let's say this is the second time the US government is trying to force a technology company to create a backdoor to encrypt one of its products.
However, although the FBI lawsuit against Apple was publicly debated from the beginning, no one knew anything about the legal pressure exerted by the DOJ and the FBI on Facebook until some journalists uncovered the story in September.
"Ultimately, people have the right to know the type of surveillance used in their communities," the ACLU said.