Monday, July 10, 2006

Big Brother calls for backdoors

When I was a boy growing up in the 70s, I would often see or hear proclamations of America's greatness (I lived withing range of their broadcast towers) with various freedoms cited as evidence for that greatness. Though freedoms are nearly always under attack from those holding power, there seems to be attempts to formalize the the restriction of freedoms.

From CNET News:
The FBI has drafted sweeping legislation that would require Internet service providers to create wiretapping hubs for police surveillance and force makers of networking gear to build in backdoors for eavesdropping, CNET has learned.

FBI Agent Barry Smith distributed the proposal at a private meeting last Friday with industry representatives and indicated it would be introduced by Sen. Mike DeWine, an Ohio Republican, according to two sources familiar with the meeting.


Breaking the legislation down
The 27-page proposed CALEA amendments seen by CNET would:

• Require any manufacturer of "routing" and "addressing" hardware to offer upgrades or other "modifications" that are needed to support Internet wiretapping. Current law does require that of telephone switch manufacturers--but not makers of routers and network address translation hardware like Cisco Systems and 2Wire.

• Authorize the expansion of wiretapping requirements to "commercial" Internet services including instant messaging if the FCC deems it to be in the "public interest." That would likely sweep in services such as in-game chats offered by Microsoft's Xbox 360 gaming system as well.

• Force Internet service providers to sift through their customers' communications to identify, for instance, only VoIP calls. (The language requires companies to adhere to "processing or filtering methods or procedures applied by a law enforcement agency.") That means police could simply ask broadband providers like AT&T, Comcast or Verizon for wiretap info--instead of having to figure out what VoIP service was being used.

• Eliminate the current legal requirement saying the Justice Department must publish a public "notice of the actual number of communications interceptions" every year. That notice currently also must disclose the "maximum capacity" required to accommodate all of the legally authorized taps that government agencies will "conduct and use simultaneously."

According to the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America,
...No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States....

According to the Fourth Amendment to the Bill of Rights,
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
If history provides us with any usable pattern, it is that the proposed law would be used to aid in violating the Fourth Amendment to the Bill of Rights. This news ought to be as alarming to non-Americans as to Americans. What has been described as the "slow creep towards fascism" is a phenomenon that is occuring globally.


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