FBI adds to wiretap wish list
March 15, 2004 6:59 AM   Subscribe

Proposal to have companies rewire their networks to support easy wiretapping by police "A far-reaching proposal from the FBI, made public Friday, would require all broadband Internet providers, including cable modem and DSL companies, to rewire their networks to support easy wiretapping by police. The FBI's request to the Federal Communications Commission aims to give police ready access to any form of Internet-based communications. If approved as drafted, the proposal could dramatically expand the scope of the agency's wiretap powers, raise costs for cable broadband companies and complicate Internet product development." Read more about the FBI's proposal at Cnet.com. or MSNBC. But where is the actual proposal?
posted by fluffycreature (8 comments total)
Worthy topic, but I posted about this a couple of days ago.
posted by digaman at 7:01 AM on March 15, 2004

Ummm, two days ago, and still on the front page, see?
posted by dazed_one at 7:02 AM on March 15, 2004

Admittedly, though, this one is of such potential importance in its capacity to turn the Internet into another tool of authoritarianism that it almost deserves two seperate threads.
posted by Ryvar at 7:20 AM on March 15, 2004

given the last 5 years, (DMCA, Patriot 1 + 2 and Ashcroft, generally) I, for one expected (as opposed to welcome) this legislation.

I'm only surprised they waited so long to act.
posted by Fupped Duck at 7:25 AM on March 15, 2004

Fine, fine, fine. My first front page post and it's botched. I searched the front page for FBI, obviously not diligent enough.

Shoot the messager, but discuss the message...
posted by fluffycreature at 7:44 AM on March 15, 2004

One might also suggest that the importance of this thread is such that MeFi's comments on it shouldn't be scattered yon and hither. But since my first post didn't get all that much reaction anyway, maybe it's all a moot point. :-)
posted by digaman at 9:58 AM on March 15, 2004

I'm guessing this is really about IP phones. Also, like phone taps, this is probably more about catching the dimmer class of law breaker. There are encryption tools available that can defeat network layer data inspection by almost anyone if you know what you're doing.
That said, the PATRIOT Act 200s Section already gives law enforcement much more than power that this against anyone thought to be involved in "computer fraud and abuse offenses".
posted by snarfodox at 10:41 AM on March 15, 2004

I posted about this to my weblog on Jan. 2nd. I'm almost certain that this is what they are talking about...

Cryptome.org released an interesting new government-restricted document today on how the FBI does/would like to do surveilance on the Internet -- especially for voice-over-IP. This is particularly of interest to me, in that I worked for a VoIP provider for quite awhile.

It's not easy reading unless you're used to this kind of stuff. It reads like a doc written by a telco expert which has been reviewed by lawyers, with the controversial bits left intentionally vague and couched in techspeak and acronyms.

For instance, the phrase...
"In CGVoP networks, certain key functionality and features are or could be provided by CPE."
...means that the FBI -- if they deem it techically useful or necessary -- will have "the talk" with the major manufacturers of consumer phone/telco equipment, in order to facilitate the monitoring of calls. Of course, similar features will be built into switching and routing equipment -- some are already there -- located in the local phone carrier's central offices. There is even a suggestion in the document that authentication between equipment in the customer's house and equipment in the local phone carrier's central offices will not occur unless FBI security features are in place in the consumer's equipment, turning any truely secure communication devices you might have into expensive paperweights.

This cooperation between telco businesses and government is required according to the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act. If you wondered why you never heard about CALEA, it is probably because it was rushed through congress in the last night of the 1994 congressional session, with no real public debate or input on the matter.

One has to wonder how these security issues play out. Will overseas customers be forced to import US security by default? Will the NSA or the CIA use this new infrastructure too? Are these features enabled in hardware and/or in software? Can they be bypassed... and if they were, would it be legal? Questions, questions...
posted by insomnia_lj at 1:15 PM on March 15, 2004

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