U.S. Weighs Wide Overhaul of Wiretap Laws

Wiretap LawsObama administration, resolving years of internal debate, is on verge of backing a Federal Bureau of Investigation plan for a sweeping overhaul of surveillance laws that would make it easier to wiretap people who communicate using the Internet rather than by traditional phone services, according officials familiar with deliberations. F.B.I. director, Robert Mueller III, has argued bureau’s ability to carry out court-approved eaves-dropping on suspects is “going dark” as communications technology evolves, since 2010 has pushed for legal mandate requiring companies like Facebook and Google to build into their instant-messaging and other such systems a capacity to comply with wiretap orders. That proposal, however, bogged down amid concerns by other agencies, like the Commerce Department, about quashing Silicon Valley innovation. While the F.B.I.’s original proposal would have required Internet communications services to each build in a wiretapping capacity, the revised one, which must now be reviewed by White House, focuses on fining companies that do not comply with wiretap orders. The difference, officials say, means start-ups with a small number of users would have fewer worries about wiretapping issues unless the companies became popular enough to come to the Justice Department’s attention. Still, the plan is likely to set off a debate over the future of the Internet if the White House submits it to Congress, according to lawyers for technology companies and advocates of Internet privacy and freedom. “I think F.B.I.’s proposal would render Internet communications less secure, more vulnerable to hackers and identity thieves,” said Gregory T. Nojeim of Center for Democracy and Technology. “It would also mean that innovators who want to avoid new and expensive mandates will take their innovations abroad and develop them there, where there aren’t the same mandates.” Andrew Weissmann, the general counsel of the F.B.I., said in a statement the proposal was aimed only at preserving law enforcement officials’ longstanding ability to investigate suspected criminals, spies and terrorists subject to a court’s permission. “This doesn’t create any new legal surveillance authority”. “This always requires a court order. None of the ‘going dark’ solutions would do anything except update the law given means of modern communications.” A central element of the F.B.I.’s 2010 proposal was to expand Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, a 1994 law that already requires phone and network carriers to build interception capabilities into their systems, so that it would also cover Internet-based services that allow people to converse. But bureau has now largely moved away from that one-size-fits-all mandate. Instead, the new proposal focuses on strengthening wiretap orders issued by judges. Such orders instruct the recipients to provide technical assistance to law enforcement agencies, leaving wiggle room for companies to say they tried but could not make the technology work. Under new proposal, providers could be ordered to comply, and judges could impose fines if they did not. The shift in thinking toward the judicial fines was first reported by The Washington Post, and additional details were described to The New York Times by several officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity (…..)

Link: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/08/us/politics/obama-may-back-fbi-plan-to-wiretap-web-users.html


Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional

3 Responses to U.S. Weighs Wide Overhaul of Wiretap Laws

  1. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: The Obama war on terror doctrine makes US mainland another theater of operation. The attack of 9/11 was the beginning of the end of personal freedom and privacy for American citizens. Big Brother is watching US.


  2. Lk: Between this and the force-feeding of prisoners with open-ended sentences (not to mention the drone attacks), Obama’s starting to look a little too much like his predecessor for my liking.


  3. Professor Uziel Nogueira says: No, you are wrong. Obama is more MACHO than W on domestic espionage and foreign wars. He shows a black president can be tougher than the white dudes that preceded him. Of course, a slight smile must hit his face every time the Nobel Peace Prize award struck his mind.



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