EFF (the Electronic Frontier Foundation) has filed a Freedom of Information (FOIA) lawsuit against the Justice Department. The digital rights group wants to learn whether the government has made use of secret court orders to force tech companies to provide access to encrypted user data.
After the Apple vs the FBI battle, there has been renewed interest in how companies handle not only encryption, but government requests for access to such data. With services such as WhatsApp enabling end-to-end encryption, attention has now switched to what might be happening in the background without users' knowledge. While Apple very publicly refused to provide decryption keys, EFF - and others - are concerned that secret court orders may be used to hide what is really happening.
The Apple case in particular showed how the likes of the FBI make use of public courts to apply for access to data, but the EFF is concerned that "it is unclear to what extent the government has sought or obtained similar orders from the FISC". A particular worry is that "FISC operates mostly in secret and grants nearly every government surveillance request it receives".
The Electronic Frontier Foundation says:
The argument is that any orders - public or secret - that force companies to provide access to encrypted data reduce not only privacy, but also security. Those orders that are public allow for debate and discussion, but the very nature of secret orders prevents this. EFF Senior Staff Attorney Mark Rumold says:
You can read through the full complaint on the EFF website.