Eideard

Obama’s answer to Bush’s illegal snooping – make it legal

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The phone for listening in on anyone is in the lower lefthand drawer

Federal law enforcement and national security officials are preparing to seek sweeping new regulations for the Internet, arguing that their ability to wiretap criminal and terrorism suspects is “going dark” as people increasingly communicate online instead of by telephone.

Essentially, officials want Congress to require all services that enable communications — including encrypted e-mail transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites like Facebook and software that allows direct “peer to peer” messaging like Skype — to be technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order. The mandate would include being able to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages.

The bill, which the Obama administration plans to submit to lawmakers next year, raises fresh questions about how to balance security needs with protecting privacy and fostering innovation. And because security services around the world face the same problem, it could set an example that is copied globally…

There is not yet agreement on important elements, like how to word statutory language defining who counts as a communications service provider, according to several officials familiar with the deliberations…But they want it to apply broadly, including to companies that operate from servers abroad, like Research in Motion, the Canadian maker of BlackBerry devices…

Several of the proposal’s likely requirements:

¶ Communications services that encrypt messages must have a way to unscramble them.

¶ Foreign-based providers that do business inside the United States must install a domestic office capable of performing intercepts.

¶ Developers of software that enables peer-to-peer communication must redesign their service to allow interception.

RTFA. Please. Lots of anecdotal information. Nothing that reassures me – or suddenly provides a leap of faith and trust in our government to do the right thing.

May as well start cranking up, now, to finance constitutional challenges, folks. Unless you believe that Congress – our elected heroes, the White House – more elected heroes, will change political horses in mid-stream and decide that protecting any right to privacy should be superior to government snooping.

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Written by Ed Campbell

September 27, 2010 at 3:00 pm

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