FBI Wants More Access to Internet Communications

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

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FBI Director Robert Mueller and staff are meeting with top executives at some of the biggest Internet-based corporations in an effort to gain greater access to information and communications.

Law enforcement would like to broaden the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act passed in 1994, which requires communications companies to produce data when presented with a court ordered subpoena.

“I can confirm that F.B.I. Director Robert Mueller is visiting Facebook during his trip to Silicon Valley,” said Facebook’s public policy manager Andrew Noyes.

The crux of the matter is in the ability of Internet-based companies to be able to quickly and easily provide access to encrypted data that passes through their systems, and to force communications from foreign based sources under control of American companies to be routed through servers in the US to enable access and monitoring.

Other nations have made similar requests, most notably related to issues with RIM's Blackberry communications, which are encrypted and generally considered some of the most secure in the business.

Critics point out the fact that creating systems to easily and quickly un-encrypt data could produce a threat to sensitive information that would otherwise remain secure. It also presents companies like RIM with the prospect of losing one of their best selling points in the eyes of consumers - secure data and communications transfer.

Note that the widely publicized Aurora attacks originating in China used back-doors that were originally created to give the government easy access to communications, so the reservations expressed by those critical of the initiatives are well founded in their concerns.

Source:  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/17/technology/17wiretap.html?_r=2&hpw

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