Seattle, Washington—On Tuesday, April 28, at 9 am, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and Stanford cybersecurity scholar Riana Pfefferkorn will ask a federal appeals court to embrace the public’s First Amendment right to access judicial records and unseal a lower court’s ruling denying a government effort to force Facebook to break the encryption of its Messenger service.

Media widely reported in 2018 that a federal court in Fresno, California, denied a  government request that would have required Facebook to compromise the security and privacy promised to users of its Messenger application. But the court’s order and details about the legal dispute have been kept secret, preventing people from learning about how DOJ sought to break Facebook’s encryption, and why a federal judge rejected those efforts.

ACLU Surveillance and Cybersecurity Counsel Jennifer Granick will argue on behalf of EFF, ACLU, and Pfefferkorn that the public has a right to know when and how law enforcement tries to compel a company—one that hosts millions of people’s private communications—to circumvent its own security features and hand over the contents of its users’ voice calls and other private conversations. This is especially important now, as the Justice Department has repeatedly said that it wants access to encrypted communications, a position that endangers people’s privacy and undermines the security of everyone’s information.

The court will hear the argument remotely via videoconference, which will be livestreamed for the public on the website of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

WHO: ACLU Attorney Jennifer Granick

Oral arguments in ACLU Foundation v. DOJ

April 28
9 am


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