Administration: Make Internet Wiretaps Easier
INTERNET REGULATIONS going even further than those in the “USA Patriot Act” are now being drafted by the Obama administration. They would make it easier for “law enforcement” and “national security” employees and agents to eavesdrop on Internet and e-mail communications — like Hotmail, Gmail, Skype and other VOIP sites, social networking Web sites like Facebook — and BlackBerries, iPads, and an almost unlimited number of other services and devices, according to the Associated Press.
The administration is now drafting a bill to be submitted next year that would require all online services that enable communications to be technically equipped to comply with a wiretap order. Companies — or individuals — that provide encrypted e-mail would have to unencrypt it on demand if requested to do so by federal “authorities.”
Federal “law enforcement” and “national security” officials — who free speech advocates say are often politically motivated and can’t be trusted — say new the regulations are “needed because terrorists and criminals are increasingly giving up their phones to communicate online,” according to the New York Times.
Valerie E. Caproni, a lawyer for the FBI, was reported as stating “We’re talking about lawfully authorized intercepts. We’re not talking about expanding authority. We’re talking about preserving our ability to execute our existing authority in order to protect the public safety and national security.”
The Obama administration will ask for Congress’s rubber stamp to make the proposals law early next year.
Kevin Alfred Strom, a writer, free speech advocate, and editor of National Vanguard, said the rules are a danger to freedom of speech:
“The new rules would give Washington the ability to spy on everything you write or say. Nothing — literally nothing — would be private any more. Washington and the neocons and Obama’s neo-neocons are a far greater threat to our freedom than Osama bin Laden ever was. And armed with the right to inspect everything you hear or read or see, the regime in Washington would also be able to falsify evidence against you — or anyone it wants to ‘get’ — and intersperse it among genuine data to make it look credible to a jury. That’s how they work.”
Highlights of the proposal include:
• Any service that provides encrypted messages must be capable of unscrambling them.
• Any foreign communications providers that do business in the U.S. would have to have an office in the United States that’s capable of providing intercepts.
• Software developers of peer-to-peer communications services would be required to redesign their products to allow interception.
One writer and commentator had a pessimistic view, assuming the expanded authority will be quickly granted: “Everyone’s a ‘terrorist’ and criminal now — ‘domestic terrorists’ and ‘hate criminals.’ It’s funny how quickly what little was left of America was destroyed. Like a hot knife through butter — no resistance whatsoever.”