The US government is demanding Facebook “wiretap” its Messenger app so agents can hear a suspect’s spoken conversation as a part of an investigation into the MS-13 gang, 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 Donald Trump, when the US 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 ICE apprehend members of MS-13.
The investigation that led to this Messenger case began in Fresno, Reuters reports.
The US Department of Justice and Facebook declined to comment for the Reuters report. Later, when reached by Gizmodo, Facebook again declined to comment on the matter.
A US federal judge reportedly heard the case in California on Tuesday. 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.