The Digital Revolution Will Be Wire-Tapped


The Wash Post reports today on Justice Department attempts to broaden its ability to do wiretap the Internet (and to stick Net users with the tab, natch). From the piece:

The proposal by the Justice Department, the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration could require extensive retooling of existing broadband networks and could impose significant costs, the experts said. Privacy advocates also argue that there are not enough safeguards to prevent the government from intercepting data from innocent users.

Justice Department lawyers argue in a 75-page FCC petition that Internet broadband and online telephone providers should be treated the same as traditional telephone companies, which are required by law to provide access for wiretaps and other monitoring of voice communications. The law enforcement agencies complain that many providers do not comply with existing wiretap rules and that rapidly changing technology is limiting the government's ability to track terrorists and other threats.

How pressing is the need for reform? Well, there's this boilerplate request from the feds: "They are asking the FCC to curtail its usual review process to rapidly implement the proposed changes…." Gotta love the DEA getting in on the action: There's no doubt that the Internet has been a big boon to meth cookers everywhere who are just so desperate to share recipes and trailer park gossip, right?

Whole story here. If the FCC, which says it will/is doing its own review of the rules in question, caves, the least they can do is open up the floodgates to "indecent" content via "free" TV and radio broadcasts.

Is privacy already dead? And if so, what does that mean for you, me, and the NSA agents monitoring this exchange? Those are some of the questions raised by Brian Doherty last summer in this stupendous Reason cover story on one man's battle to travel anonymously.

[Thanks to Jack John S. of Kalamazoo for the Post link; go Broncos.]

NEXT: Why High School Sucks, Part XXXVII

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  1. Here is what they will see on this Blog:

    Of the 14 topics from Veni, Vidi, Vici to Bjorn Lomborg as of this morning before Noon, there were 456 messages from an undeterminable number of people.

    The most messages were from Jean Bart – 29. Only Joe and Thoreau were in the twenties with Jean Bart.

    In the teens were rts and Isaac Bartram, plus Andrew of three assortments.

    In the single digits were Jack, Ruthless, db, Warren, Jesse, Nobody, Simon, dj, Rick, Kwais, Pavel, garym, Douglas, Jennifer, and many, many with five or less messages over the 14 topics.

    There is no way to tell how many of the many single posts are actually the same person using different names.

    Then, there was “Eugene” being blocked for using another’s name and other’s words, perhaps meaning well but doing harm. The authorities had at the bogus Eugene.

    Politics, especially war is a popular tangent sidebar to any issue as well as slightly off-topic religion and anything to do with privatization.

    The discussion is for the most part civil. Humor and wit are found sprinkled throughout the topics. The participants seem urban and wide-spread. Lurkers seem aplenty judging by the total number of messages versus the relatively few multiple writers. Questions are often raised, but rarely answered.

    For sure, someone on this Blog is a drug using homosexual atheist so paranoid-about-identity as to use an alias and so confused about if and who to vote for in 2004 that sometimes both sides of the issues are taken before settling on a third and unpopular stance, and calling it Libertarian.

  2. You got me, I am coming clean. I have been confused since getting out of rehab. My actions are due in part from the withdrawls of that evily addictive drug; oxycontin. However, seeing all these fine, young conservatives dispell the myths about pot on this website, I am considering moving myself and my show’s operations to California to seek a medical marijuana Rx to alleviate the pain of my withdrawls. Don’t think of me as a bad person, just a victim of that highly addictive drug; oxycontin.

  3. Ok, as much as our nanny government personnel aspire to control our every inhale and exhale, internet traffic is vastly different than voice communication. ?Wiretaps? can?t be done in SSL without breaking the connection, and then we have PGP. (And other assorted encryption methods.)

    Another thing that a lot of members of the US government forget is, the internet has no national boundaries. It doesn?t matter how much the DEA hates the fact that someone in Amsterdam can sell pot online, there?s not a damn thing they can do about it. Obviously it can?t be shipped here, but I?m talking about the web page itself.

    Even China can?t filter out everything they wish to repress, and holy shit they try.

    But I think the deal killer is the burden to ISPs. It would cost billions of dollars to change the infrastructure, and you just can?t pass that kind of cost on to consumers. Especially in the bad economic times Tech companies are currently in. It would put the ISPs out of business. (I work for an extremely large international Tech company, so I know of which I speak.)

    In the real world, it takes a ~400MHz computer to decrypt 128-bit data in real time. (To allow for error checking/CRC checksum.) That?s EACH STREAM. OK, so a 2.4GHz computer can monitor six people. For the average sized city, that?s 17,000 new computers they?d need to purchase. That takes the bill to at least $20.4 million dollars PER CITY. And that?s just computers, there?s a lot of other equipment needed.

    I imagine most ISPs aren?t very worried about this, because the Justice Department request is asinine, and it?s easy to prove why.

    I?m not sure that the FCC has the authority to approve this request anyway. The ISPs could easily have it blocked in Federal court, and then only an act of Congress could get it to fly. Of course, Total Information Awareness couldn?t even get approved for $200 million, so a $1 billion request would go over like a lead balloon.

    I see this as a last ditch attempt by the war pigs to resurrect their beloved TIA.

  4. The authorities, officials, and police were abusing their authority, snooping, and ruining those that speak out before the Patriot Act.

    I spoke out about drugs being sold off my front lawn by teenagers drinking beer in lawn chairs on my front lawn in Stafford Springs, CT. Connecticut State Police, Troop C, refused to help and even threatened me telling me to shut up and leave Connecticut.

    I didn’t and lost my home family, dog, and more.

    I post on as Vikingas.

    My story can be found here:

    Bloggers can keep America free as our Forefathers intended.

    -Steven G. Erickson
    PO Box 730
    Enfield, CT 06083

  5. Aw c’mon, you got to admit its a little flattering to be stalked by the government…

  6. EMAIL:
    DATE: 05/21/2004 06:02:58
    If you save the world too often, it begins to expect it.

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