Monday, September 27, 2010

Obama administration wants Internet to be wiretap-friendly

Charlie Savage has a major detailed story Monday morning Sept. 27 in the New York Times (front page), “U.S. is working to ease wiretaps on the Internet; security vs. privacy; Officials say they are lacking the capability to track suspects”, link here.

The conceptual problem is that, when compared to practice with traditional phones, the decentralized design of the Internet, and particularly its encryption capabilities, make it difficult to intercept messages (in response to police or FBI wiretap orders) without specific search warrants, which law enforcement says may take too long in organized crime or terrorism-related investigations. (Remember that the NSA could not decrypt all its material until one day after 9/11 even though it had “suspicions”.)

The article discusses the supposed shortfalls of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEAS), with a main reference (website url) here.

The legislation would be developed in 2011.

Congress could require major changes to P2P services like Skype or to social networking sites like Facebook, as well as Blackberries (RIM). It’s not clear there could much concern over straightforward blogging, videos, or “Web 1.0” publishing sites. I will be tracking the technical and practical issues on my main blog later. The bill, in the works in the Obama administration, is sure to be controversial.

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