Monday, October 4, 2010

U.S. National Security Apparatus Says It Needs Even More Routine Access to Your Communications


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[The U.S. national security apparatus] "...is preparing legislation that would force all Internet communications providers - from social networking sites to smart phones - to give the government more access to intercept and monitor online communications. Law enforcement officials claim that terrorists are "going dark" and that they need more tools to monitor them.

Silicon Valley was taken by surprise by the announcement, suggesting that officials didn't even think to include technology companies in the discussion. Maybe if they had, they wouldn't have come up with such a drastic, odious and cumbersome proposal.

Officials' reasoning is confusing, considering the enormous scope of interception capabilities and wiretapping authority they have already. Phone and broadband networks are already required to have interception capabilities. Investigators can often intercept communications at a switch offered by network companies."

"...But now they're claiming that it's not enough. They want all communication servers to have a way for them to intercept messages, and the capability to provide the government with the unencrypted text of private conversations.

Other countries have tried to implement or are implementing a similar set of draconian regulations - India, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia.

If inclusion in this group makes you uncomfortable, it should. These aren't countries with an established tradition of personal privacy laws. To follow in their footsteps is at odds with American legal tradition and American values. As citizens, we're outraged that officials think so little of the concept of privacy.

Creating a separate entry for governmental access raises serious security risks for average Americans as well. If companies purposely create an opening in their software that's easy for the government to enter, it will be even easier for hackers and criminal networks to worm in. That's what happened to the Greek government in 2005. Hackers took advantage of a legally mandated wiretap function to spy on Greek politicians."

San Fransisco Chronicle - Internet monitoring plan threatens privacy

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Obama can has interwebz wiretap?

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Mercury News - Privacy advocates criticize government's online eavesdropping proposal
"This view that law enforcement is being left in the dark by technology is a myth," Rotenberg said. Government officials have a "lot of ways" to investigate crimes and terrorist threats.

"Now they want the additional benefit of the network being wiretap-friendly," he added. "We're saying that simply goes too far."

Encryption and peer-to-peer networking have become widely used on the Internet for everyday communications, advocates say. Online purchases, financial transactions and even e-mail messages are routinely encrypted these days. And some new laws setting privacy standards have encouraged the wide use of encryption for storing and transmitting health information and other electronic or online records."

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New York Times - Internet Wiretapping Proposal Met With Silence

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I can't say that I am happy with any proposal to grant unlimited, unscrutinised access to private communications. The clubby atmosphere and underlying political agendas of those involved in the so-called national security business leaves me highly uncomfortable with proposals for broad-brush monitoring.

It is far too slippery a slope, and these kinds of powers and abilities are often granted in a cone of deafening silence.

We as a free (ostensibly) people need to be very wary of such requests. I find it interesting how privacy rules are being cranked up for most other sectors, but so-called national security gets their way without a wimper and without oversight. The Right wing has managed to make all politicians afraid of speaking up for real freeedom - for fear that those politicians will be called "weak on defense" or "weak on security" or "soft on terrorism".

And the North American and European public keeps quaffing its Soma and votes from a perspective of apathy, lack of knowledge, and fear of brown people and others who are "different". Because it's brown people who get extra searches and questioning, not "real Americans" or "real Canadians" as some politicians like to say.

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