Skype, BlackBerry, and other Internet communications services are under attack. The Obama administration and the FBI are pushing legislation that would ban online communications technologies like these unless their developers make it easy for the government to wiretap them. Here's a New York Times article on last week's Congressional hearing on the topic.
The F.B.I. has been quietly laying the groundwork for years for a push to require Internet-based communications services — like Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, BlackBerry and Skype — to design their systems with a built-in way to comply with wiretap orders. On Thursday, the bureau made its first full airing of the “going dark” problem.
The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) requires telecom companies to make it possible for the government to wiretap their networks. Now Obama and law enforcement want to expand CALEA to cover all online communications technologies, including peer-to-peer and social networking apps.
Companies that want to avoid heavy-handed regulations, and those that actually care about our privacy rights, would have to leave the U.S. That would reduce our prominence as a technology leader, and encourage the government to devise ever more severe ways of blocking Americans from using the offending technologies. Other companies would comply by creating back-doors that could lead to more privacy violations and make the Internet more vulnerable to attack: experts say wiretap-ready technologies would be much easier to hack.