The popular law enforcement myth is that crooks are getting ever more sophisticated in their use of modern technology, so the police have got to acquire more "sophisticated" point-and-drool equipment to catch them. We find versions of this incantation in virtually every Justice Department press release or speech related to CALEA. But these tools -- especially in the IP realm -- are not so much sophisticated as complicated and very expensive. They're a bad alternative to old-fashioned detective work involving the wearing down of shoes and dull stakeout sessions in uncomfortable quarters such as automobiles. The chief impulse behind this law enforcement gizmo fetish is laziness, and it's a bad trend: The more policemen we have fiddling with computer equipment, the fewer we have doing proper legwork.
In the end, all this surveillance gear and attendant hype becomes meaningless with simple precautions like encrypted VOIP, a good implementation of virtual private networks, and proxies and SSH for web surfing, IM, internet relay chat, webmail and the like.
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