U.S. gov't aims to facilitate wiretapping

US gov't aims to facilitate wiretapping
U.S. law enforcement agencies, like the F.B.I., are complaining that current wiretapping is being hindered by carriers' rapidly evolving technology. They have cited multiple occasions on which carriers either modified their network, or added new features which hindered and delayed their surveillance efforts.

Under the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act of 1994, wireless carriers (among others) are required to create channels through which law enforcement agencies can tap into any customer's activities. Unfortunately, networks are changing constantly, and it's onerous to build such back-doors into all their features.

The government plans to strengthen the 1994 law by offering incentives for compliance, and greater penalties for noncompliance. This effort follows their recent move to tap social networking tools like Gmail, BlackBerry, Facebook, and Skype. Those companies are already feeling the pressure, having to overhaul their models to accommodate for government surveillance.

Albert Gidari Jr., a telecommunications attorney, says that accommodations for surveillance could injure industry innovation, profits, and competitiveness. The F.B.I.'s general counsel, Valerie E. Caproni, says that the government is only trying to maintain their previous level of surveillance, not embed themselves any further.

Most everyone would agree that we need to be able to track terrorist and drug-related activities. Many, however, might disagree on the methods. The need to include surveillance features with every technological innovation could prove a real burden on progress. This is particularly true if companies fear harsh sanction if their surveillance features fall short of government standards.

source: The New York Times

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