March 12, 2004 9:36 AM PST

FBI pushes for broadband wiretap powers

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All broadband Internet providers, including cable modem and DSL companies, would have to rewire their networks to support easy wiretapping by police, according to a new proposal from the FBI.

The long-awaited proposal, submitted to the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday, has been crafted so broadly that it would outlaw the introduction of new broadband services that did not support ready wiretapping access. Companies currently offering broadband would be given 15 months to comply.

"The importance and the urgency of this task cannot be overstated," reads the proposal, which is also backed by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration. "The ability of federal, state and local law enforcement to carry out critical electronic surveillance is being compromised today."

"It is a very big deal and will be very costly for the Internet and the deployment of new technologies," said Stewart Baker, a partner at law firm Steptoe & Johnson, who represents Internet providers. "This is a very serious request. Law enforcement is very serious about it."

The origins of this debate date back nine years, to when the FBI persuaded Congress to enact a controversial law called the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA. Louis Freeh, FBI director at the time, testified in 1994 that emerging technologies such as call forwarding, call waiting and cellular phones had frustrated surveillance efforts.

Congress responded to the FBI's concern by requiring that telecommunications services rewire their networks to provide police with guaranteed access for wiretaps. Legislators also granted the FCC substantial leeway in defining what types of companies must comply.


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I guess it was just a matter of time before Big Brother invaded the Internet. The federal government is disgracing our constitution and those who drafted it. They are also making a mockery of our freedom and those who died to keep us free. It rings of communism. The principles laid down by the constitution should be unskirtable and stand no matter what the issue. Those who would go around the provisions written when our great country was formed are ultimately worse than any criminal element they would have you believe warrants such disregard of our way of life. Law enforcement has become more dangerous and a larger threat than any criminal. In fact, law enforcement has become criminal in its own right by disregarding the foundation of our freedom. And any judge or legislator that would back such criminal activity by default is a criminal and a threat to our way of life. The justice system has more methods of law enforcement at their disposal already than is required. Perhaps they should follow the rules the rest of us live by and improve their skills in working with the already proliferation of gestapo tactics at their disposal. This preposal for broadband access is nothing but criminal and the public should send a message to Washington that it will not be tolerated.
Posted by bjbrock (98 comments )
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The Killing of the Internet
I saw it coming, this is not the first time that anything new is invented meant to serve the masses but later destroyed by first the politicians and then the capitalist multi national companies.

Today an averge user of the Internet has a lot to confront and fear about:
1. Virus
2. Spam
3. Installation of keyloggers
4. Cnahging of user's configuration upon visiting a site
5. Web worms and bugs and now wire tapping.

We destroy more than we think we construct, in the 21st century, humanity should be ashamed of itself.
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