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U.S. To Seek Broad Wiretap Laws for Internet

The NY Times reports that the U.S. law enforcement authorities are seeking new powers to require all communications – including email and social networks – to have the capability to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages.

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9 Comments

  1. Andrew Butash says:

    Oh this is rich. They basically want to change how the entire Internet functions. Yeah, good luck with that boys.

  2. “”And their envisioned decryption mandate is modest, they contended, because service providers — not the government — would hold the key. “”

    This is just a hilarious line to hear from the bureau issuing “National Security Letters” rather than classic subpoenas.

  3. The real target here is US citizens, not criminals/terrorists.
    Criminals/terrorists will be secure using their own home-brew encryption technologies. Meanwhile, law-abiding citizens who use this new “government-authorized” encryption technologies will be less secure from criminals/terrorists due to the required introduction of a back-door (even though supposedly only usable by the government). It’s a step backwards for US security.

    It *could* however be useful to the GOP for suppressing political dissent. Mostly though, this is a political move to grab votes from the right-wing demographic.

  4. Misleading Headline
    Legal intercept authority exists under CALEA. There is also the ongoing illegal wiretapping started under prior administration. What is new is the requirement to break *all* encryption, a priori. (At least the UK makes it a crime to not provide your key on demand.)

  5. @AC – likely, the intent all along is for US law enforcement to “compromise” and “grudgingly” accept the UK law.


  6. This will herald in the age of the end of Internet privacy. 1984 is getting closer and closer. Soon enough, big brother will indeed be watching. This is simply the first step toward making the private use of encryption illegal, such as it is in China. EVERYTHING will be tracked. This has HUGE future implications for e-business. It’s corporatist, facist thinking…put the entire population at risk to try and catch the 1 person in a million who is a bad seed…who is probably smart enough to evade such tracking techniques. If demanded, what happens if you refuse to give up your encryption key? They can thow you in jail indefinately as a suspected terrorist… Realistically, we all know that even if the driving force is terrorism, so they say, the primary use will end up being commercial and civil enforcement of illegal file sharing. The American way…cow-tow to big business, sue everyone, and ask questions later!!! It’s a step in the wrong direction, forever entrenching out of date business models!!!

    I can see the **AAs foaming at the mouth in anticipation, even more so than the army of hackers and identity theifs that will have a field day with this. Governments really don’t have a clue!!!

  7. How do you break encryption?
    How are they supposed to intercept email traffic if the email is encrypted using PGP, or even more secure, one time pads. As Jim R said, in the UK they can arrest you for not handing over the encryption key. However, I don’t know how that would work in the US, as it would be similar to saying you have to testify against yourself. It would essentially remove your “right to remain silent”. There isn’t really a precedent for anything like this in legal history. Historically, if they wanted into your locked vault, and you didn’t want to give them the key, they could just break it with brute force. This becomes almost, if not completely impossible once you consider that the locked vault may be an encrypted file. I can understand why they are clamouring around trying to come up with solution. There is much evidence that can be gained to put real criminals in jail, if they had the ability to read internet traffic, However, I think they are going in the wrong direction, as they are likely to catch a lot of petty thieves, and the more dangerous/sophisticated criminals will just use unbreakable encryption.

  8. Re: How do you break encryption?
    Eric, you may be surprised to learn that there is at least one piece of Canadian legislation where there is no need for a warrant, and that there is a requirement for you to assist in the investigation of yourself (save for private dwellings). See the Firearms Act of 1995, section 102.1 (warrantless inspection) and section 103.

    The slope is very slippery.