Obama Wants To Wiretap The Internet

Photo: David Drexler (CC)

Photo: David Drexler (CC)

This report from the New York Times is spreading like wildfire, especially amongst the conservative media like Fox News.

Federal law enforcement and national security officials are preparing to seek sweeping new regulations for the Internet, arguing that their ability to wiretap criminal and terrorism suspects is “going dark” as people increasingly communicate online instead of by telephone.

Essentially, officials want Congress to require all services that enable communications — including encrypted e-mail transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites like Facebook and software that allows direct “peer to peer” messaging like Skype — to be technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order. The mandate would include being able to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages.

The bill, which the Obama administration plans to submit to lawmakers next year, raises fresh questions about how to balance security needs with protecting privacy and fostering innovation. And because security services around the world face the same problem, it could set an example that is copied globally.

James X. Dempsey, vice president of the Center for Democracy and Technology, an Internet policy group, said the proposal had “huge implications” and challenged “fundamental elements of the Internet revolution” — including its decentralized design.

“They are really asking for the authority to redesign services that take advantage of the unique, and now pervasive, architecture of the Internet,” he said. “They basically want to turn back the clock and make Internet services function the way that the telephone system used to function.”

But law enforcement officials contend that imposing such a mandate is reasonable and necessary to prevent the erosion of their investigative powers.

“We’re talking about lawfully authorized intercepts,” said Valerie E. Caproni, general counsel for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “We’re not talking expanding authority. We’re talking about preserving our ability to execute our existing authority in order to protect the public safety and national security.”

Investigators have been concerned for years that changing communications technology could damage their ability to conduct surveillance. In recent months, officials from the F.B.I., the Justice Department, the National Security Agency, the White House and other agencies have been meeting to develop a proposed solution…

[continues in the New York Times]

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  • Vox Penii

    “There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.”

    George Orwell, “Nineteen-Eighty-Four” (1948)

    All you suckers who voted for Messiah Obama feeling stupid yet?

    He is the eye in the sky
    Looking at you
    He can read your mind
    He is the maker of rules
    Dealing with fools
    He can cheat you blind…

  • 5by5

    The problem is, by creating all these backdoors into all these system, they’re just going to make it easier for hackers to penetrate these same networks.

    I admired men like Bruce Fein and Bob Barr (with whom I have absolutely NOTHING else in common with politically) when, as Republicans, they stood up against a Republican President who was illegally wiretapping and signing regressive legislation like the PATRIOT Act into law. As a Democrat, I don’t happen to feel it’s any better when my Democratic President is basically trying to get another set of laws passed to help provide legal justification for that same wiretapping.

    This is a damned stupid idea, because I have exactly ZERO confidence that they are going to only use this capability in cases with verifiable probable cause as mandated by the 4th Amendment. And even if this Administration behaves honorably with this new power, there’s no guarantee that a future administration with behave honorably.

    Moreover, unless there are some SERIOUS mechanisms in there (with enforcement/punishment teeth) for people to check potential abuses, this shouldn’t be allowed at all. And the public has to have means of redress when mistakes – intentional or not – are made in the execution of any such program.

    However if past is prologue, that will never happen, because every time someone brings a lawsuit trying to GET a remedy after they’ve been illegally wiretapped, or had some No Such Agency goober pull a sneak-and-peak on their offices or home, or had a national security letter sent to their local library demanding to know which fracking books they read, the second they get into court, the gov’t (in particular the left-over Bush Fifth Column political appointees who were placed in previously non-political roles in the Justice Department) run out and claim “secrecy privileges” on national security grounds, and the case gets summarily thrown out of court.

    Not just, “Oh, you can’t see that redacted document, because it might endanger troops on the ground,” but, “You can’t even bring your objections to the violations of your rights to court.”

    THAT is distinctly anti-American, and flies in the face of the very foundations of American jurisprudence.

  • 5by5

    The problem is, by creating all these backdoors into all these system, they’re just going to make it easier for hackers to penetrate these same networks.

    I admired men like Bruce Fein and Bob Barr (with whom I have absolutely NOTHING else in common with politically) when, as Republicans, they stood up against a Republican President who was illegally wiretapping and signing regressive legislation like the PATRIOT Act into law. As a Democrat, I don’t happen to feel it’s any better when my Democratic President is basically trying to get another set of laws passed to help provide legal justification for that same wiretapping.

    This is a damned stupid idea, because I have exactly ZERO confidence that they are going to only use this capability in cases with verifiable probable cause as mandated by the 4th Amendment. And even if this Administration behaves honorably with this new power, there’s no guarantee that a future administration with behave honorably.

    Moreover, unless there are some SERIOUS mechanisms in there (with enforcement/punishment teeth) for people to check potential abuses, this shouldn’t be allowed at all. And the public has to have means of redress when mistakes – intentional or not – are made in the execution of any such program.

    However if past is prologue, that will never happen, because every time someone brings a lawsuit trying to GET a remedy after they’ve been illegally wiretapped, or had some No Such Agency goober pull a sneak-and-peak on their offices or home, or had a national security letter sent to their local library demanding to know which fracking books they read, the second they get into court, the gov’t (in particular the left-over Bush Fifth Column political appointees who were placed in previously non-political roles in the Justice Department) run out and claim “secrecy privileges” on national security grounds, and the case gets summarily thrown out of court.

    Not just, “Oh, you can’t see that redacted document, because it might endanger troops on the ground,” but, “You can’t even bring your objections to the violations of your rights to court.”

    THAT is distinctly anti-American, and flies in the face of the very foundations of American jurisprudence.

    • Cramerrc

      If you look into it the Fed’s have already bypassed the 4th Ammendment. They no longer need probable cause to start an investigation on a private citizen. There was an article about it two months ago.

  • Andrew

    Not as stupid as the retards who voted for Bush in 2004, and not stupid enough to vote for Obama in 2012.

  • Ironaddict06

    This goes way beyond BHO or Bush. It is about the Federal gov’t being in every aspect of American lives-due to national security. I didn’t see this mentioned in the NYT-but the federal gov’t and BHO are pushing for a bill for the right to shutdown the entire internet if there is a “cyber attack.” The president would have this power. An example of how this would work, is when Bush shut down the FAA(all flights) after the 9/11 attacks.

  • Ironaddict06

    This goes way beyond BHO or Bush. It is about the Federal gov’t being in every aspect of American lives-due to national security. I didn’t see this mentioned in the NYT-but the federal gov’t and BHO are pushing for a bill for the right to shutdown the entire internet if there is a “cyber attack.” The president would have this power. An example of how this would work, is when Bush shut down the FAA(all flights) after the 9/11 attacks.

    • E.B. Wolf

      One step at a time. Bush passed legislation claiming the right to use warrantless wiretaps anywhere, anytime, and for any reason.
      Now Obama’s administration is pushing for the infrastructure. It’s following the same pattern as the evolution of the “state secrets” privilege.

      • Andrew

        I wonder what the evolution of the “targeted killing” of American citizens privilege will be?

  • Anonymous

    Republican/Democrat , Bush/Obama – as a dumb foreigner I have trouble seeing any difference between the two

  • http://www.theamericanbookofthedead.com Henry Baum

    How do you reconcile that comment with the presidency of George Bush? Obama sucks on this (and many other issues) but George Bush didn’t? Oh wait, you’re a person who thinks Obama is a “Bolshevik.” Which means you lack basic comprehension.

  • Cramerrc

    If you look into it the Fed’s have already bypassed the 4th Ammendment. They no longer need probable cause to start an investigation on a private citizen. There was an article about it two months ago.

  • BobDobbs

    Oh yeah it’s the Obama conspiracy. Pull your head out and realize anyone who gets elected is working for the same rich white guys as any other pres.

  • Wand De Justus

    Good,good.Was starting to feel a tad uneasy.It is a warmth to know,that the government, still is friend.For all of us who are not doing anything,thank you

  • Wand De Justus

    Good,good.Was starting to feel a tad uneasy.It is a warmth to know,that the government, still is friend.For all of us who are not doing anything,thank you

  • Andrew

    When rich white guys do it it’s okay.

  • E.B. Wolf

    One step at a time. Bush passed legislation claiming the right to use warrantless wiretaps anywhere, anytime, and for any reason.
    Now Obama’s administration is pushing for the infrastructure. It’s following the same pattern as the evolution of the “state secrets” privilege.

  • E.B. Wolf

    Obama’s the one with a darker paint job and superior public speaking skills.
    That’s about all.

  • Andrew

    I wonder what the evolution of the “targeted killing” of American citizens privilege will be?

  • A Bad Joke

    I hope the feds have fun listening to drunks play WoW over ventrilo.

  • A Bad Joke

    I hope the feds have fun listening to drunks play WoW over ventrilo.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    A more honest examination would narrow this down to a question of legalizing the already existing protocols for counterintelligence and intelligence gathering officials and just handing the same carte blanche down to lesser officials and agencies.

    In other words…privacy has always been an illusion…you are already in the grist mills of info…there is no escape…unless this country of unprincipled pussy manbitches who bend over and beg for it whenever the word terrorist is uttered sudenly grows a collective sac and finally strips government of the right to intrude without just cause or legal recourse in the event of abuse or error.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    A more honest examination would narrow this down to a question of legalizing the already existing protocols for counterintelligence and intelligence gathering officials and just handing the same carte blanche down to lesser officials and agencies.

    In other words…privacy has always been an illusion…you are already in the grist mills of info…there is no escape…unless this country of unprincipled pussy manbitches who bend over and beg for it whenever the word terrorist is uttered sudenly grows a collective sac and finally strips government of the right to intrude without just cause or legal recourse in the event of abuse or error.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Well it would help a lot if the archly conservative law enforcement and intelligence communities weren’t cheering loud and clear every step of the way…and if the other low rent cheerleaders for neocon wet dreams would shut the fuck up and stop excusing every treasonous crime committed by their beloved faction.

  • Virgendelasvacas

    I recognize that “This Phone Is Tapped” sticker! That’s a mother fucking CrimethInc sticker! XD

    You can totally buy those online (super cheap; like 100 for $3) here: http://store.crimethinc.com/x/stickers.html

  • Virgendelasvacas

    I recognize that “This Phone Is Tapped” sticker! That’s a mother fucking CrimethInc sticker! XD

    You can totally buy those online (super cheap; like 100 for $3) here: http://store.crimethinc.com/x/stickers.html

  • Haystack

    “Federal law enforcement and national security officials are preparing to seek sweeping new regulations for the Internet, arguing that their ability to wiretap criminal and terrorism suspects is “going dark” as people increasingly communicate online instead of by telephone.”

    And therefore it’s our obligation to communicate in ways that are easier for them to spy on?

  • Haystack

    “Federal law enforcement and national security officials are preparing to seek sweeping new regulations for the Internet, arguing that their ability to wiretap criminal and terrorism suspects is “going dark” as people increasingly communicate online instead of by telephone.”

    And therefore it’s our obligation to communicate in ways that are easier for them to spy on?

  • BlackMailEm

    Yes I agree and they should start with every person on our payroll, we have a right to see what they are doing while they are at work, in our buildings and using our equipment and networks.

    Their should be a directory of every elected and appointed government official, agent and public servant. So anyone can read their email to their doctors, lovers, accountants, and drug dealers.

    Do you think the cyber geeks you hire to snoop are not going to snoop on you too ?
    After a few rounds of blackmail, and character assignations from hackers that love back doors, we should have some real transparency among our employees in government.

    So go right ahead, but you go first, because we have to know if your worth the risk, and our trust.
    Remember, the constitution is just a dammed sheet of paper. The people are the power, and your really pissing us off lately.

  • BlackMailEm

    Yes I agree and they should start with every person on our payroll, we have a right to see what they are doing while they are at work, in our buildings and using our equipment and networks.

    Their should be a directory of every elected and appointed government official, agent and public servant. So anyone can read their email to their doctors, lovers, accountants, and drug dealers.

    Do you think the cyber geeks you hire to snoop are not going to snoop on you too ?
    After a few rounds of blackmail, and character assignations from hackers that love back doors, we should have some real transparency among our employees in government.

    So go right ahead, but you go first, because we have to know if your worth the risk, and our trust.
    Remember, the constitution is just a dammed sheet of paper. The people are the power, and your really pissing us off lately.

  • Ross Wolf

    Currently under Obama, U.S. Government and police surveillance is venomous, discarding the Forth Amendment. In April 2010 Obama asked for the power to arrest and indefinitely detain Americans not based on evidence or probable cause, but because someone might do something. See: Obama Sound-Video:
    http://www.brasschecktv.com/page/630.html

    The Obama government also wants the FBI to conduct warrant-less searches of all Internet Activity. Police too easily can take an innocent person’s hastily written email, fax or phone call out of context to allege a crime or violation was committed to cause an arrest or civil asset forfeiture. There are more than 200 laws and violations that can subject property to government asset forfeiture. Information the FBI derives from e.g. no warrant spying on email communications can be used in court and/or lead to subpoenas to collect evidence against Americans to prosecute any crime, circumventing the Forth Amendment.

    On March 4, 2010, John McCain introduced S.3081 The “Enemy Belligerent Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act of 2010” if passed, would allow government to use (mere suspicion) to curtail an individual’s Constitutional Protections against unlawful arrest, detention and interrogation without benefit of legal counsel and trial. According to McCain’s S.3081, Government would not be required to provide (detained individuals) U.S. Miranda Warnings or even an attorney. Americans could be held indefinitely in military custody on only suspicion of being an Unprivileged Enemy Belligerent suspected of; having engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners; or purposefully and materially (supported) hostilities against the United States; its coalition partners or civilians. How would one prove to Government they did not purposely do something? “Materially Supporting Hostilities” against the United States could include any person or group that spoke out or demonstrated disapproval against an agency of U.S. Government; Government could allege attending a protest supported hostilities. When you read the McCain bill it appears “suspicion” is not necessary for government to detain and interrogate Americans.

    McCain’s bill mentions “non-violent acts” supporting hostilities in America including against U.S. government and or emanating from America against a Coalition Partner. Non-violent terrorist acts” are covered in the Patriot Act to prosecute Persons that allegedly supported “coercion or intimidation to influence a government or to affect a civilian population.” Under Title 18, USC the presence of a lawful group could be alleged to intimidate a population.

    Lawful U.S. activists and individuals under McCain’ S.3081 would be vulnerable to prosecution, for example American activists can’t control what other activists or an unknown agent might do illegally—they network with domestically and overseas. Under S.3081 law enforcement and the military can too easily use (hearsay or informants) to allege “suspicious activity” to indefinitely detain someone; it is problematic detained individuals in the U.S., not involved in terrorism or hostile activities, not given Miranda Warnings or allowed legal counsel would be prosecuted for ordinary crimes because of their alleged admissions while in military custody.

    How might Americans respond should Government use McCain’s bill if passed or Congress passes similar laws to arbitrarily arrest and indefinitely detain their loved ones, family members and friends on mere suspicion?
    See McCain Senate bill S.3081:
    http://assets.theatlantic.com/static/mt/assets/politics/ARM10090.pdf

  • Ross Wolf

    Currently under Obama, U.S. Government and police surveillance is venomous, discarding the Forth Amendment. In April 2010 Obama asked for the power to arrest and indefinitely detain Americans not based on evidence or probable cause, but because someone might do something. See: Obama Sound-Video:
    http://www.brasschecktv.com/page/630.html

    The Obama government also wants the FBI to conduct warrant-less searches of all Internet Activity. Police too easily can take an innocent person’s hastily written email, fax or phone call out of context to allege a crime or violation was committed to cause an arrest or civil asset forfeiture. There are more than 200 laws and violations that can subject property to government asset forfeiture. Information the FBI derives from e.g. no warrant spying on email communications can be used in court and/or lead to subpoenas to collect evidence against Americans to prosecute any crime, circumventing the Forth Amendment.

    On March 4, 2010, John McCain introduced S.3081 The “Enemy Belligerent Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act of 2010” if passed, would allow government to use (mere suspicion) to curtail an individual’s Constitutional Protections against unlawful arrest, detention and interrogation without benefit of legal counsel and trial. According to McCain’s S.3081, Government would not be required to provide (detained individuals) U.S. Miranda Warnings or even an attorney. Americans could be held indefinitely in military custody on only suspicion of being an Unprivileged Enemy Belligerent suspected of; having engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners; or purposefully and materially (supported) hostilities against the United States; its coalition partners or civilians. How would one prove to Government they did not purposely do something? “Materially Supporting Hostilities” against the United States could include any person or group that spoke out or demonstrated disapproval against an agency of U.S. Government; Government could allege attending a protest supported hostilities. When you read the McCain bill it appears “suspicion” is not necessary for government to detain and interrogate Americans.

    McCain’s bill mentions “non-violent acts” supporting hostilities in America including against U.S. government and or emanating from America against a Coalition Partner. Non-violent terrorist acts” are covered in the Patriot Act to prosecute Persons that allegedly supported “coercion or intimidation to influence a government or to affect a civilian population.” Under Title 18, USC the presence of a lawful group could be alleged to intimidate a population.

    Lawful U.S. activists and individuals under McCain’ S.3081 would be vulnerable to prosecution, for example American activists can’t control what other activists or an unknown agent might do illegally—they network with domestically and overseas. Under S.3081 law enforcement and the military can too easily use (hearsay or informants) to allege “suspicious activity” to indefinitely detain someone; it is problematic detained individuals in the U.S., not involved in terrorism or hostile activities, not given Miranda Warnings or allowed legal counsel would be prosecuted for ordinary crimes because of their alleged admissions while in military custody.

    How might Americans respond should Government use McCain’s bill if passed or Congress passes similar laws to arbitrarily arrest and indefinitely detain their loved ones, family members and friends on mere suspicion?
    See McCain Senate bill S.3081:
    http://assets.theatlantic.com/static/mt/assets/politics/ARM10090.pdf

  • Andrew

    Not as stupid as the retards who voted for Bush in 2004, and not stupid enough to vote for Obama in 2012.

  • http://www.theamericanbookofthedead.com Henry Baum

    How do you reconcile that comment with the presidency of George Bush? Obama sucks on this (and many other issues) but George Bush didn’t? Oh wait, you’re a person who thinks Obama is a “Bolshevik.” Which means you lack basic comprehension.

  • BobDobbs

    Oh yeah it’s the Obama conspiracy. Pull your head out and realize anyone who gets elected is working for the same rich white guys as any other pres.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Well it would help a lot if the archly conservative law enforcement and intelligence communities weren’t cheering loud and clear every step of the way…and if the other low rent cheerleaders for neocon wet dreams would shut the fuck up and stop excusing every treasonous crime committed by their beloved faction.

  • oman28

    Republican/Democrat , Bush/Obama – as a dumb foreigner I have trouble seeing any difference between the two

  • Andrew

    When rich white guys do it it’s okay.

  • E.B. Wolf

    Obama’s the one with a darker paint job and superior public speaking skills.
    That’s about all.