The FBI is once again calling for the internet to be converted into a Stasi-like spy grid. “Web-based e-mail, social-networking and peer-to-peer services are frustrating law enforcement wiretapping efforts, a lawyer for the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation told lawmakers Thursday,” reports PCWorld.
The Obama administration will attempt to bribe, coerce, or intimidate web-based services not covered by traditional wiretap laws into helping the government turn the medium into a sprawling high-tech surveillance platform.
Valerie Caproni, general counsel at the FBI, reminded the U.S. House Judiciary Committee that the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA, does not cover the internet. CALEA requires traditional telecom carriers to allow law enforcement agencies real-time access to communications.
Instead of forcing ISPs to adopt CALEA, the government will attempt to convince communication providers to build in so-called back doors allowing law enforcement access to their software. Caproni said she’s optimistic the U.S. government can find “incentives” for companies to “have intercept solutions engineered into their systems.”
“We are not looking for any new authority,” she said. “We are concerned we are losing ground in actually being able to gather the information we are authorized to have.”
Laura Murphy, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office, said in a statement that the FBI plan “will actually change the structure of the Internet, providing the government with a master key to our online communications.”
Caproni said the FBI is concerned about the internet being used for criminal activity. “That criminal may be a massive drug dealer, they may be an arms trafficker, they may be a child pornographer or a child molester,” she said. “We need the actual ability to conduct the wiretaps so we can keep the streets safe.”
The FBI has a long history of using its authority to monitor and harass political activists. A report by the Electronic Frontier Foundation reveals that since 9/11, the FBI has been responsible for at least 40,000 violations of the law. It has functioned primarily since its inception in the early 1900s as a political police force tasked with going after political activists of all stripes.
“In many cases, many of those now under surveillance by the FBI are ordinary American citizens doing nothing more than exercising their First Amendment right to free speech by criticizing the government,” writes constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead.
Ms. Caproni has sheepishly admitted that the internet continues to stump the FBI and the government. It has allowed activists to coordinate and announce their protest activities. It also represents the greatest single threat to the ruling elite and the government because it allows unfettered dissemination of alternative news that is not reported by the corporate Mockingbird media.
Caproni told the House committee the FBI would have recommendations for Congress soon. Representative Hank Johnson, a Georgia Democrat, said Congress is ready to oblige. “What are you seeking here today?” he asked. “What is it exactly that you would want Congress to do?”
The FBI wants Congress to turn the internet into the largest and most efficient Stasi snoop grid in history. It wants a legal fig leaf to cover its effort to neutralize the opposition through surveillance and ultimately harassment, intimidation, and in the case of the Black Panthers and American Indian Movement activists in the 1960s and 70s, assassination.
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- FBI: We’re Not Demanding Encryption Backdoors (cbsnews.com)
- FBI Pushes for Surveillance Backdoors in Web 2.0 Tools (wired.com)
- The FBI Wants Tech Companies To Help Make Wiretapping Easier (paidcontent.org)
- FBI: We’re not demanding encryption backdoors (news.cnet.com)
- FBI steps up push for Net wiretapping (zdnet.com)
- FBI: Web-based Services Hurting Wiretapping Efforts (pcworld.com)
- FBI to Announce New Internet-Wiretapping Push (cbsnews.com)
- FBI to announce new Net-wiretapping push (news.cnet.com)
- Panel Debates Ways To Update Surveillance To New Technologies (techdailydose.nationaljournal.com)
- Debate Over Internet Backdoors Heats Up in Congress and in Court (eff.org)
- It’s Back: FBI Announcing Desire To Wiretap The Internet (techdirt.com)
- CALEA: It is about the money (paranoia.dubfire.net)