A backdoor in all Internet products and services?

Smartphone security

Why does your government want a backdoor in all popular Internet products and services? That’s like asking why a prostitute wants you to pay for her services, or why a politician wants a bribe (or is that a campaign contribution?).

A backdoor in all telecommunications devices and services is already made possible by CALEA, the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act. (See also CALEA FAQ.) Now they want to step it up a notch and compel popular Internet companies and social networks like Facebook and Google to give law enforcement agencies real time monitoring capabilities of all online communication. It’s not enough that they can already get anything they want by just submitting a letter to these online services.

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According to a Washington Post report, “a government task force is preparing legislation that would pressure companies such as Face­book and Google to enable law enforcement officials to intercept online communications as they occur.”

Joe Hall, a staff technologist at the Center for Democracy & Technology, said the “proposal has the potential to make our communications less secure,” because “once you build a wiretap capability into products and services, the bad guys will find a way to use it.”

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That makes sense to me, but try telling that to a group that loves power. If this does not want you to always use Free Software services and applications, nothing will. And if these guys succeed in making this bad idea law, it will give service like Identi.ca an opportunity to be very popular, at least for folks like us.

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7 Responses

  1. Interesting that they want more powers, but they don’t properly use the powers they already have. In my mind, there’s nothing wrong with needing a court order before being required to hand over user info, or the equivalent of a “wiretap”.

    FYI, I don’t live in the U.S, I’m an Australian, but I don’t know what the situation even is here. We apparently were compelled to bring some of our laws “in line” with the U.S as part of our free trade agreement, so we’ve got some of the copyright and patent sillyness, but it’s not as eagerly pursued over here, and not as draconian yet, as far as I know.

  2. Mathematics will protect you! Encrypt everything you with a VPN that uses SSL encryption. Make sure that the VPN is truly private (i.e. separation between payment and support and usage) so that even a subpoena will not yield any useable information against you. Shop around and compare. Torrentfreak.com has a great comparison of VPN providers to get you started. Look into it today. Protect yourself and your family from government spies and potential prosecution in the future.

  3. Don’t the majority of social media services like Google and Facebook run on open source?

    Im all for bashing MS but this is seems more a political problem than a technical one.

    1. They may run on “open source,” but their applications are proprietary. Note that I care or even want him to, but has Mark Zuck published the source code for Facebook?

  4. Law Enforcement also has unrestricted access to Skype and other Microsoft product’s, including but not limited to Windows.

    In my opinion, one of the two are logical:

    (a) Windows users are uninformed and/or ignorant.
    (b) Windows users have no expectation or need of privacy.

    As for me, I’ll stick to Linux. At least I can audit the code to and remove parts if some sneaky Politician pops some code in my binaries.

  5. Not just “access”, not just “real time access”, but WARRANTLESS real-time access.

    Keep that in mind when you think about this. WARRANTLESS.

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