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.]