Published in Editorials

The FBI Wants Mandatory "Backdoors" to Online Communications Services

by on04 May 2012 2275 times

90After watching the Department of Homeland Security try to force new amendments allowing them very expanded powers to police and control the Internet it seems the FBI wants to get in on some of this too. You see The FBI and law enforcement are having a hard time doing their job (according to them) and their current methods for gathering information with a warrant are just not enough. They would like Mandatory backdoors into online communication services like Skype, MSN, Gmail etc.

Although they can already tie into services with traditional tapping methods they cannot read the contents of a users’ mailbox, chat sessions etc. directly on the servers. This is what they want; the ability to access the systems through a built-in backdoor. Supporters of this bill say that this is not changing the laws and that the FBI will still need a warrant to use these backdoors. The opposition seems to have a little more ammunition and site instances where the FBI and other law enforcement have abused warrants and taken much more than they needed (look at MegaUpload). There have been cases where the FBI confiscated and searched all of the servers in shared rack inside a colocation facility even though the warrant was only for a specific company’s servers. The same thing has been done with other services as well.

It is this type of behavior that worries many privacy advocates and others in the tech industry. If The FBI gets a warrant to use the back door to look at one person’s mail, will they take a look through all of the accounts on that server too? What about privileged communication when using a VoIP service like Skype or MSN’ video chat feature? Just where is the line for this type of move?

We know that with the fear that has been spread by law enforcement after some of the Anonymous attacks they feel the time is right to try and push these bills. They will prey on this fear to get these new laws in place. All in the name of National Security when really what we are seeing is a continued use of US law enforcement to push the big entertainment cartels like RIAA and MPAA’s agendas. What is needed now is the same type of public and corporate response that was seen with SOPA, PIPA and ACTA or this one will slip quietly by and we will see another decrease in our freedoms that are supposed to be protected by these same organizations and politicians.

Of course, we also have to wonder about how secure these “backdoors” would be. The FBI cannot have it both ways. Is the Internet so scary they need this type of legislation or are things secure enough that we do not have to worry about these backdoors being used by the very groups that the FBI is trying to catch? Personally I am not confident they can secure something like this after their performance over the last few years, nor do I want to pay for what it would cost for ISPs and service providers to put this in place and maintain it.

Source CNet

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Last modified on 04 May 2012
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