Sunday, February 20, 2011

We don't need no stinkin' laws

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, frustrated at their inability to execute wiretaps on communications not covered by current laws ("web-based e-mail, social-networking and peer-to-peer services"), is apparently going to "lean" on such online companies, Mob-like, to build in a few special little back doors for the Feds to use in whatever extra-legal fashion they wish:

"But [FBI General Counsel Valerie] Caproni told lawmakers she was not asking for expanded CALEA [Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act] powers. And she stopped short of calling for rules requiring Web-based communication providers to build in so-called back doors allowing law enforcement access to their software, although she said she's optimistic the US government can find incentives for companies to 'have intercept solutions engineered into their systems.'" (emphasis ours)

It will be interesting to learn what sort of "incentives" will be offered to companies who are asked to provide the type of access that Ms. Caproni doesn't want to bother codifying into law.  Maybe something along the lines of "Play ball with us and we won't unlawfully seize your Internet domain and then go on to defame your company by falsely accusing you of harboring child porn", perhaps?

The e-list member who turned us on to this article has a well-placed friend who summed up the situation quite nicely:

"Laws have boundaries and oversight. Incentives don't."

True, which is most likely why Ms. Caproni doesn't appear to be in a rush to request a legislative-based solution to the department's expressed dilemma.

This issue might be something to keep in mind when evaluating your future online software solutions.

1 comment:

Jack Goodman said...

Well, this might be really useful depending on who's being watched or what the FBI is looking for; but otherwise it appears that this could have the potential to be a lot of help.