Easing Wiretaps on the Internet
September 27, 2010 4:02 AM Subscribe
“They can promise strong encryption. They just need to figure out how they can provide us plain text.”
posted by Vetinari (198 comments total)
27 users marked this as a favorite
The administration plans to submit legislation to Congress in 2011 which would mandate any communications technology operating in the United States to include technical measures to comply with wiretap orders.
This is the latest of many attempts
to build backdoors for law enforcement into any technology that can be used to communicate; those who have paid attention to the subject for a while may remember Clipper
, one notable carrot in a long line of sticks. What's different now is that it pushes the responsibility of getting to the unencrypted message onto the operator: it would in effect be illegal to operate strong cryptography without some form of key escrow or other law-enforcement-friendly weakness built in. Though this is not quite the level of control
on crypto mandated by more authoritarian regimes, it represents a new restriction on the freedom of information within the United States.
It is unclear how the proposed penalties could be applied to systems without a single operator, and questions of jurisdiction naturally present themselves in an international
Internet. More certain is opposition
to the measure from an engineering community that has allergy to wiretapping encoded
in its DNA.