RSS
Obama's proposal to 'wiretap' the internet
The president reportedly wants to expand the government's online surveillance powers. Does anyone think that's a good idea?
National security officials are worried that criminals and terrorists are making heavy use of encrypted electronic communications
National security officials are worried that criminals and terrorists are making heavy use of encrypted electronic communications
Corbis
F

ederal law enforcement and national security officials are seeking new regulations that would force almost all electronic communications services to decode any messages if served with a wiretap warrant, The New York Times reports. The FBI and other agencies are concerned that as more people ditch the telephone for encrypted email, BlackBerrys, and peer-to-peer networks like Skype, their ability to eavesdrop on criminals and terrorists is "going dark." But is mandating a "back door" to all e-communications really the best solution?

So much for privacy rights: There was a big stink when "tyrannical" Arab government kicked out BlackBerry for not letting them monitor all messages, says Glenn Greenwald in Salon. Well, the Obama administration is now "taking exactly the position of the UAE and the Saudis." If these proposals are enacted, law-abiding Americans will no longer enjoy any vestiges of "true privacy from government authorities."
"The Obama administration's war on privacy"

Obama has tough choices: "My hunch is that Obama could make an excellent argument against" the new privacy-sapping proposals, says Michael Crowley in Time, "and that it pains him to adopt them." But at this point he would probably "rather be accused of limiting civil liberties than of having been less than fully vigilant" if there were a terrorist attack. And his critics don't receive Obama's "constant and chilling" intelligence briefings.
"Obama and civil liberties"

The "back door" won't work: Even if the new wiretap regulations are constitutional — and they may not be, says Declan McCullough in CNET News, they're impractical, will not do much to stop criminals from chatting privately, and give hackers and foreign governments easier access to our emails, too. Also, the rules are largely unnecessary: The feds, right now, can physically tap suspects' computers with a warrant.
"Report: Feds to push for Net encryption backdoors"

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week