The United Kingdom and the United States – the latter being the home and the owner of Facebook, and its global messaging app WhatsApp, that is advertised and promoted around the globe perhaps more often than not as “encrypted” and “safe” – apparently have a deal in place that negates much of that narrative.
You might expect the focus of such news to be on how all this may affect WhatsApp’s original market that made the app into what it is today – all those countries outside the US, and the UK – end even outside of Europe. But that doesn’t appear to be the case.
The Times writes about this, framing and specifying this legal and technological preceded as concerning such things in a way that no sane individual would think twice about objecting to – namely, WhatsApp, Facebook and other social media platforms being forced to disclose encrypted messages “from suspected terrorists, pedophiles and other serious criminals, under a new treaty between the UK and the US.”
But what about WhatsApp’s multi-billion-strong remainder, the law-abiding userbase of people – still counting on the privacy promised to them by Facebook?
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Citing a source familiar with the matter, the US agency Bloomberg writes that “social media platforms based in the US, including Facebook and WhatsApp, will be forced to share users’ encrypted messages with British police under a new treaty between the two countries.
However, not everyone thinks these reports might be particularly dire when it comes to free speech and online freedoms. For example – there’s Alex Stamos whose cause on Twitter seems to be to highlight the need to secure American elections 2020 – as he himself has suggested.
Stamos is now declaring the Times of London and Bloomberg stories as incorrect – apparently, simply because the deal quoted in the reports is not exactly “new” – and even though either outlet was yet to withdraw or even correct their reporting, as of his tweeting.
After quite a couple of inches of what looks like legal and professional disclaimers, and then hand-picked references to various real or desired precedents – including such notorious corporate anti-privacy violators like Microsoft acting as apparent people’s privacy advocates – gathered in a Twitter “thread” narrative containing more than two dozens of his tweets total – Stamos seemed to finally get down to business.
His argument against the possibility that the Times of London/Bloomberg story about Facebook’s WhatsApp might be factually correct is that this would go against a US law known as Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act, CLOUD Act.
The goal of the CLOUD ACT is “to allow federal law enforcement to compel US-based technology companies via warrant or subpoena to provide requested data stored on servers regardless of whether the data are stored in the US or on foreign soil.”
But Stamos is unfazed:
“There are a bunch of human rights protections in the CLOUD Act and there can be more in each agreement. If tech companies don’t like an order, they can always ask a US judge to make the hard call,” he argued in his Twitter storm.