Well, that’s a novel lobbyist. One a legislator might have some second thoughts about refusing.
That’s one reason (among several) I find this newest news item very disturbing. Apparently, the shift from prior use of traditional telephony to the Internet has made it more difficult for FBI agents to wiretap Americans suspected of illicit actions. Therefore, in meetings with the White House, Senators, and industry representatives senior FBI officials are arguing for Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo and Google to build in backdoors for Government surveillance.
To do this, The FBI’s General Counsel (Andrew Weissman, special counsel to the Director of the FBI in 2005, federal prosecutor of the East District of New York for 15 years, director of the Enron Task Force, and in private practice represented both US and foreign Corporations and executives in criminal and civil investigations and has taught criminal law and procedure at two law schools) has drafted a proposed law (supposedly the best solution),
“requiring that social-networking Web sites and providers of VoIP, instant messaging, and Web e-mail alter their code to ensure their products are wiretap-friendly.” – Declan McCullagh, http://news.cnet.com/8301-1009_3-57428067-83/fbi-we-need-wiretap-ready-web-sites-now/?tag=mncol;morePosts
This legislation would alter the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) which was extended in 2004 to include broadband networks.
Mr. Weissman’s predecessor, Valerie Caproni singled out "Web-based e-mail, social-networking sites, and peer-to-peer communications" as problems that have left the FBI "increasingly unable" to conduct the same kind of wiretapping it could in the past (http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-20032518-281.html).
The FCC is thought to be considering the reinterpretation of CALEA to demand the backdoors for Skype, Google Hangouts, XBOX Live and I’ll wager all the IM’s as well. So, Apple’s Facetime, iChat/AIM, Live Messenger and Gmail’s videochat will be affected as well.
There are larger forces at work: Election year politics. The White House is probably concerned about another privacy battle which could, and damned well should be a wedge issue.
A point of transient interest… the Senator who introduced CALEA in the 1990’s was none other than now V.P. Joseph Biden. His legislation then stated that companies should "ensure that communications systems permit the government to obtain the plain text contents of voice, data, and other communications when appropriately authorized by law."
Supposedly, they will still need a court order to establish the tap. How many times has that requirement been violated in the past?
The EFF is concerned about this type of legislation and so is Phil Zimmerman (inventor of Zfone which scrambled communications and author of PGP decoding software). So, Linphone, Kphone and Zfone will be required to comply yet most likely be unable to comply. Guess what will happen to those companies.
TechAmerica ( represents HP, eBay, IBM, Qualcomm and other tech companies) has been lobbying against CALEA expansion. These changes will cost significant amounts of monies. Guess who’s going to pay the price? Also, besides the companies, guess who will profit from all the lobbying.
Which brings me to the real point here. It seems the Congress can’t function unless it’s in a matter which limits our freedoms more and more.
It seems we have perfected the system for expanding technology and laws to treat the fear of the technology we’re “improving to make life better.” The legislators don’t mind, since they profit no matter what.
Which brings me back to the title.
Doesn’t anyone mind that the FBI (a law enforcement agency) can propose legislation?
Well, why should they… after all, corporate lobbyists have been doing that for years. That it’s basically a police agency shouldn’t bother anyone, right? They’re just looking out for us. Just as they always have. They have our best interests at heart, and we should trust them.
However, if you find out someone there or in government anywhere is doing something wrong, don’t try calling a newspaper.
“Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?” ? A dead question, like the language used to phrase it.
Could someone remind me just why we need a legislative branch? Don’t quote the Wikipedia, nor the Constitution. The former is not trustworthy, and the latter stopped being relevant in this country decades ago.
and those in the article text.