National Intelligence Director Wants Access To All Internet Communications

from the you-have-no-privacy-anywhere dept

Now, there are those who claim the government already has the ability to monitor all internet communications, but it looks like it’s about to become official. National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell told a reporter from The New Yorker that he’s prepared a “cyber security policy” that would grant the federal government the right to monitor all internet communications. The report also notes that President Bush hasn’t yet announced this policy. The reporter from the New Yorker states: “it may be the only way to protect transportation, security, and other critical systems that rely on the Internet.” That is a bizarre statement that seems totally unsupportable. It almost goes without saying, but the old (supposedly) Ben Franklin quote applies: “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” It’s also not clear from this report whether this is just a policy or an actual system for monitoring internet content — as that makes quite a big difference. Either way, expect to see more people become a lot more interested in encrypting their communications soon.

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Comments on “National Intelligence Director Wants Access To All Internet Communications”

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Freedom says:

This is soooo depressing.....

I feel sooo ashmed of my country right now.

I know that there will always be those that say if you aren’t doing anything wrong that you have nothing to hide and/or that safety is worth the cost. I just didn’t think in America that those folks had the majority view and that the masses don’t seem to care about freedom or rights any longer. After all, the hell with your rights if you can go shopping at the Mall and spend your new $800 tax rebate check from Uncle Sam. Besides – it will never effect me, right?

Between the Patriot Act and now this, you have to wonder if any one remembers that this is supposed to be a free country – not a perfect country and definitely not a safe country, but a FREE country.

I’m kills me to say this, but ever day it seems like more and more Americans lack a “pair”.

We can talk about winning the war all we want, but as we lose more and more of our freedoms each day, I’d say we are losing the war in the worst way.

Ron (profile) says:


The saying is “They that can GIVE up…”. Who’s giving? No one asked me and I certainly never said “Go ahead and do what you want”. These liberties have been taken from us. We can complain all we want; makes no difference because there’s a deaf ear on the other side. Go to court to force the liberty be returned? Does not work because it was taken for the good of the people or the state. Protest in the streets? Sure, but there’s not much use there either. There seems to be a view that all things Internet, all things phone, our personal habits, our spending habits, our whatever’s, are now considered to be not “our’s” anymore. Our communications and our lifestyles are no longer considered as private; takes a search warrant to enter your home but only a gentle request from a badge to get your phone records, your E-mails, etc. Homeland Security can search you up one side and down the other, and I guess they can even search your laptop and any other devices you carry and you just have to stand there and take it (well, I guess you can just not travel).
I’m with “Freedom” here, kinda: I’m very ashamed … of our government, of the self-serving interests running this country, but not of the country and its people.

Anonymous Coward says:

Why do you already have a presumption of privacy, anyway? The Internet is a commons and we’re all shouting at each other and rubbing shoulders and the cops are checking out whatever is going on. If you want privacy, you stand right next to each other and whisper, and then the cops might suspect you are up to no good BUT THERES NOTHING THEY CAN DO ABOUT IT. That is privacy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The Internet is a commons and we’re all shouting at each other and rubbing shoulders and the cops are checking out whatever is going on.

So is the phone system. I suppose you’d like to get rid of wiretap restrictions as well.

If you want privacy, you stand right next to each other and whisper, and then the cops might suspect you are up to no good BUT THERES NOTHING THEY CAN DO ABOUT IT. That is privacy.

What they’re wanting to do now is to figuratively stick a microphone between the two of you and record your conservation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

OK I was wrong. You can presume privacy in whatever idiotic places you want. Presume it online and get burned, see if I care. Be an idiot.

Presume it on the phone network and raise holy hell when it is denied you as has been done routinely over the decades, and stand in good company with thousands of other people.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

OK I was wrong. You can presume privacy in whatever idiotic places you want. Presume it online and get burned, see if I care. Be an idiot.

I wasn’t presuming any such thing. But I did take exception to your position that anything other than a whisper between two people standing next to each other should be subject to monitoring. People deserve privacy in their private communications however they are conducted.

And name calling really doesn’t help your position any.

Maybe just this once says:

Re: Re:

…I agree with the coward this time. You can’t shout across a rom without others hearing you, why do people think that they can use *privileged* systems anonymously and securely and quietly, ACROSS THE COUNTRY!?!?!

If you need private communications, buy them, don’t use hang your “pair” out on public medium for the whole world to play with.

I Don't Think So says:

Re: Re: Re:

…I agree with the coward this time. You can’t shout across a rom without others hearing you, why do people think that they can use *privileged* systems anonymously and securely and quietly, ACROSS THE COUNTRY!?!?!

The idea that there should be no privacy in anything other than intimate face to face communications is patently absurd. In fact, it is so kooky and your writing style so similar that I suspect that you are actually a sock puppet of the original commenter.

FTNSA says:

National Security - feh, it's like a rat infested

It is amazing what people will do for the mere sake of presumed safety. Who are they protecting in any event, sounds like their own resume. Though I wonder how this is a good Idea considering that anybody with a little knowledge can encrypt the hell out of everything. IF THE IDIOTS WANT TO PROTECT VALUABLE SYSTEMS, TRY LOOKING AT PROTECTING VALUABLE SYSTEMS… Not spying on everyone by focusing on the whole to the point of excluding the details.

i.e Lets look at the traffic world-wide entering America instead of putting money into the financial industry, transportation industry and all additional valuable resources with the intent of securing their data and upgrading the hardware to something capable of implementing that technology. Why not simply make everyone responsible for compliance of data security. This a free country, all you have to do to be free is jump a fence. God help you however if you were born here.

I think people like this director need to go get a job in Iraq, maybe someone there would do the right thing and “secure” them for being completely stupid in a more permanent fashion.

And for the record director boy “should you be reading this”, The weakest link in all security is the human element, and with the encryption export laws – we should have the best data security worldwide. USE IT and your brain.

FTNSA - 2nd says:

Sorry, forgot something

To Director {of finding new and useless ways to protect freedom by removing it}: Live Free or Die Hard was just a movie, not a terrorist threat that required you to act like a moron and God forbid you think this through.

Just So you know, if you pass this somehow. I will be the first to create an encrypted ISP and refuse any and all requests for compliance as it is un-american. Notice the lack of caps on america, for you have shamed it right along with bush. Some people deserve no respect for their actions and you are right up there with the terrorists. In fact you are worse, because you lie and try to put the face of security on. That is like beating a child until they are hospitalized and them telling them it is for their own good.

All Security is an illusion that provides a false sense of safety, and people like you feed on that fear to enable restrictions that will set us so far back communism will sound like a wet dream.

P.S. Mike, I really hope you get a chance to read this. Isn’t freedom of speech great, until it becomes a threat to security

Ryan says:

People should realize...

that everything on the internet is accessable. There is a way around every defense, every password, every encryption. If you want privacy, go to the bedroom and shut the door.

I do, however, dislike phone monitoring. But once again, if im on the phone telling my secrets, the government doesnt care, as long as it doesnt pertain to them.

Heres an idea, dont be a terrorist, and you should be pretty much unaffected.

Anonymous Coward says:

Hey, if technology allows it, it may as well happen, because if the govt. doesn’t do it, someone else will. All it takes is one person to do it, and then it will be out there.

OK, to all you tinfoil hat wearers out there, GWB is gone in a year, he is a lame duck, he really can’t do any serious damage, so why don’t you stop with your “I hate America” talk because no one gives a crap about what you have to say. Go back to watching video games being played on ESPN 23.

You A Holes really don’t know what is at stake here. Sure, Ben Franklin yadda yadda yadda, but Ben didn’t have to worry about someone taking out NYC or Philadelphia in a nano-second. Ben didn’t have to worry about someone killing millions with a virus.

Here is a question. How long do you think it would take for the US society (or any other countries society) to totally break down if all communications and services stopped? No phone, no radio, no TV, no power, no water, no gas?

I give it two weeks, then we are talking survival of the fittest. Two weeks, then someone is banging on your door looking for food. Are you ready for that? With no one to call, what do you do?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I just half to point out, in the 80’s we had a constant threat of the world ending to a nuke and yet they didnt have this kind of crap going on. sure nukes are scary, but there a fact of life. I dont want to give up my freedom for a percived threat that may or maynot happen anytime soon. besides, people can hide there transmission, its called encryption and its very effective. they are going to wrong way to spy on us, not them. they dont want to stop terriost, terriost give them the power to scare us into submission, well im not scared i just want my freedom.

Damien says:

Anybody who claims “if you’re not doing anything wrong you’ve got nothing to hide” have quite obviously never had, or know anyone who has had, a run-in with lazy/crooked police or DAs.

You’d be amazed how fast an innocent person’s finances (and possibly life) can be ruined fighting against bad charges because the authorities were too lazy to do things right.

Lance (profile) says:

“would grant the federal government the right to monitor…”

Could we please use the proper (and clarifying) term of “power” instead of “right”. It is impossible for a government to have or obtain a “right”. Only an individual can have a right to anything. A governmental power is simply a recognized ability to legally override an individual right. Misusing the terminology in this way is a tactic to make people see power grabs as a trade-off of rights- yours vs. the govt who is trying to protect everyone. This tactic is fairly successful with the general public, and we should be vigilant in attacking it wherever it appears. Stories like this (as well as any commentary about them) need to make it clear to everyone that the govt is attempting to seize more power.

Michael says:

Monitor This

I feel the same way the majority of the people in the united states feels. I would like to add my 2 cents. I served my country faithfully and was honorably discharged but seeing and hearing what our so called politicians have done with our freedoms and liberties that our ancestors and we fought for makes me sick. First off, we all think we have freedom of speach, WE DO NOT, anything you say can and will be held against you in a court of law. Now what kind of freedom of speach is that? If you want to send e-mails to friends and family, now they want access to read them! These politicians need to wake up and realize what they are doing to US as citizens who pay their salary. $800 sounds like a bribe to me to let them go ahead and do what they want. I don’t mean to sound harsh but I am sick and tired of everything the us government stands for and will walk across the border any day and gladly hand over my citizenship to become a citizen or what ever country I decide. I hope you jackasses in washington dc read this and reply because I will give you a piece of my mind as a VETERAN. Let an alien come from another country and live freely here and offer them anything they want FREE with no QUESTIONS and never harrass them like YOU DO US, THE PEOPLE WHO YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO not IGNORE.

Matt Thomas (user link) says:

That's Odd...

Wasn’t there a time when the transportation and “critical systems” worked without the internet? Why can’t they just use a point to point link, and leave the rest of the private world alone.

If they want to protect National Security by sniffing my packets, how about I use snail-mail to send bio-toxin’s for them to sniff. I don’t see them rushing to stick there noses into everyone’s packages and envelopes.

Anyhow, such monitoring systems are always abused, having a setup for the government to monitor all internet traffic just make’s it easy for a determined hacker to access “EVERYTHING” from one point.

Not saying it would be a hacker that abuses it either, one of the crooked employee’s that manage it could use it to track people… Spy on people… spy on people for other people.

Anonymous Coward says:

Matt, point to point link? What, go back to 1950? There is a reason that systems and the Internet are used.

Oh, and the post office has tools to screen for bio-toxins also.

You folks act like this is anything new, its not. Send $10K by any vehicle you want and someone is looking at it. The govt. has been tapped in to the phone system since its inceptioin, GWB didn’t start it. Who signed FISA into law? It wasn’t GWB.

Continental Congress says:

I like to post comments

I’m pretty sure the ol’ boys back in the late 1700’s didn’t sit around and write letters back and forth pissed off at the British goverment. From the looks of things they acted out. The goverment is nothing without the people behind it. So let’s all stop typing, get up, meet somewhere, and march. I don’t need a permit if it’s peaceful (the Constitution overrides that, they just don’t like for us to know it). p.s.- For you boys watching from the dark corners of the internet, yeah, we’re pissed at you right now.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I like to post comments

I don’t need a permit if it’s peaceful (the Constitution overrides that, they just don’t like for us to know it).

Sorry, constitutional protections don’t count in times of war and we’re now in a time of war. Perhaps you’ve heard of the (never-ending) global war on terrorism? Kiss all that constitutional stuff goodbye.

widepart says:

NSA wants to survey all email

Well I guess this might happen…..but the systems that scan email for “BAD STUFF” usually scan it by identifying certain words and phrases and other indicators………the way around this is for all of us to use as many of these words and phrases as possible within our emails so EVERY EMAIL IS SNAGGED, this would give them a lot of reading, so much so that they’d have to hire more and more email snoops just to read the volume of emails….I guess then we could be said to have helped the government to create more jobs….good for the economy. No?

wrs (profile) says:


“the only way”

Well, thanks god we still have some kind government in charge rather than an AI. SkyNet might have reasoned differently — wipe all human from the surface of Earth “to protect transportation, security, and other critical systems”.

Maybe it’s time to realize the priorities [of protecting what against what else] shifted a bit out of balance and there might be a need to correct that — before someday there’ll be any sort of SkyNet AI around.

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