The FBI referred questions to Interpol. The cooperative law enforcement association is best known for helping countries assist one another in catching suspects outside their jurisdictions. The new statement will not have the force of law, but instead aim at increasing pressure on tech providers. Both the United Kingdom and Australia have recently passed laws moving in that direction, though it is unclear how widely they are being wielded.
U.S. skirmishes have been fought in sealed court proceedings, without major congressional action. Interpol joining the political fray is notable because the group includes Russia and other countries without rules against mass surveillance or spying on political minorities and activists. Because Messenger has been one of the most valuable sources of information about child predators, the step provoked the October joint letter from three of the “Five Eyes” intelligence alliance, which also includes Canada and New Zealand. Tech activists, pointing to past abuses of “exceptional access” for governments, have been alarmed at the political and legal trend, and that accelerated over the weekend.
If an international company provides hacking capability under the legal system in one nation, they say, other countries will demand and get the same access, potentially across borders. “To give that power to Russia, China and other authoritarian states is complete dereliction of duty of the U.S. government to protect us.”.
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