Feds Pushing For New Legally Required Wiretap Backdoor To All Internet Communications
from the unintended-consequences... dept
The unfortunate, if not surprising, news story making the rounds today is that the feds in the US are looking to pass new laws to legally require a wiretap backdoor in every kind of internet communication offering. Yes, you read that right. If there’s any way to communicate online, the US government is demanding the right to be able to wiretap it. Any company that doesn’t comply will face fines. This despite the long history of the US government massively abusing its wiretapping privileges repeatedly throughout history.
And, yes, this would supposedly apply to non-US communications services as well:
Foreign-based providers that do business inside the United States must install a domestic office capable of performing intercepts.
Yeah, that’ll go over well. It’s difficult to see how this is any different than foreign governments demanding access to others’ communications as well. It’s pretty ridiculous for President Obama to talk about open internet principles to the UN, while cooking this up at the same time. Pushing for this also means that the US will have no excuse when the governments of Iran, China and elsewhere also demand backdoors into all US-based communications.
And, really, that’s the biggest problem with this law. Beyond the inevitable privacy violations by the feds, putting backdoors into communications technologies guarantees that those backdoors will be used by others (outside of the federal government) to snoop on communications. The FBI and the NSA (who are pushing for this) are being totally and completely naive if they think that they’re the only ones who will use this. We’ve pointed out in the past how large scale surveillance systems mean large scale security risks, and this is no different. We showed how a similar surveillance system in Greece was hacked into to spy on government officials. US officials should be aware that they’re opening themselves up to these same potential risks.
And, the simple fact is: this won’t help and it won’t matter. The people who really want to communicate secretly will still use tools to communicate secretly. The feds are (once again) being naive to think that such tools won’t exist and won’t be widely known and widely utilized. Instead, all this will do is open up everyone else to abuse of the system by other governments, organized crime, people with malicious intent and (of course) the US government.