US federal agencies can use a 35-year-old law to secretly monitor WhatsApp messaging app users without providing any specific explanation or reason.
WhatsApp Collaboration with American Organizations
In November 2021, US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) inspectors asked Facebook-owned messaging company to track down seven users based in China and Macau. The DEA apparently had no information about the identities of these individuals and asked WhatsApp to track the IP addresses and numbers associated with them, as well as when and how to use their application.
According to published reports, the DEA has been tracking Chinese users’s accounts by tracking Chinese individuals or entities that distribute opiates on the web or in applications. Importantly, such a level of oversight can be achieved using technology known as the “communications information recorder” and the 1986 patent law.
Law enforcement in the United States has used the same method to track WhatsApp users’ data, and apparently the Department of Justice needs only three “principles” to justify tracking WhatsApp users. The identity of the lawyer or law enforcement officer who made the request; the identity of the requesting organization and the certificate that information is required for the ongoing criminal investigation.
Evidence suggests that “unexplained” US spying is not limited to domestic WhatsApp users and users in neighboring countries. According to documents obtained from another court, seven other users of the platform have already been targeted, three of whom are based in the United States and four others in Mexico, and investigators only knew their nicknames or real names. .
Although the organization uses the law to identify suppliers of Chinese chemicals, the main concern is the lack of a clear explanation for these traces. Despite several complaints in the past from organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), no decision appears to have been made to address these concerns. So US agencies can still monitor the users of one of the world’s most popular messengers for no apparent reason.