Wiretapping revisted
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  1. #1
    Just a Virtualized Geek MrLinus's Avatar
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    Wiretapping revisted

    I know this was posted elsewhere but there seems to be a bit of an update. The one thing I wonder is what about privacy? Will the US gov't ensure that I as an law-abiding individual will not lose my privacy or worse? What about someone using this as a method of breaking into a system.

    And it will hurt innovation, particularly Open Source (which doesn't have a huge funding base as it stands right now). This actually might shed some light into SCO's recent comments. Not to sound like a conspiracy nut but perhaps there is a tie here?

    I bolded the last comments because it is a good point.

    Source: CNN
    Government wiretap plans may chill innovation

    Monday, March 22, 2004 Posted: 11:20 AM EST (1620 GMT)

    The government wants to approve some new online companies to ensure they offer wiretapping.

    SAN JOSE, California (AP) -- Before 8x8 Inc. launched an Internet phone service in late 2002, it drafted a business plan, set up its equipment, posted a Web site and began taking orders from customers. As with most online ventures, U.S. government approval wasn't needed.

    That would change if the Department of Justice succeeds at persuading federal regulators to require new online communications services -- such as Internet calling -- to comply with wiretapping laws.

    Critics, including some online businesses that are working with authorities to make their services wiretap-capable, say the DOJ proposal isn't just unprecedented and overzealous but also dangerously impractical.

    It would chill innovation, they say, invade privacy and drive businesses outside the United States.

    "No one in the Internet world is going to support this," said Bryan Martin, chief executive of 8x8, which sells the Packet8 phone service. "It's counter to everything we've done to date in terms of building the Internet as a free, anonymous and creative place."

    The Justice Department, FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration are seeking what they call a clarification to an existing wiretap law called the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act (CALEA).

    The 1994 law requires telecommunications carriers to ensure equipment is capable of being tapped when there's a lawful order. It did not expand wiretap authority but tried to ensure that new technologies are capable of intercepting calls on par with the regular phone network.

    The Justice Department says that, as the very nature of telecommunications changes, it's simply not working.

    Without citing examples, the agency's lawyers say some providers of new communications services aren't complying and, as a result, surveillance targets are being lost and investigations hindered.

    "These problems are real, not hypothetical, and their impact on the ability of ... law enforcement to protect the public is growing with each passing day," according to a petition sent to the Federal Communications Commission last week signed by Deputy Assistant Attorney General John G. Malcolm and colleagues from the FBI and DEA.

    The petition seeks a rule stating that high-speed Internet access providers are covered by the wiretap law -- as well as communications services that displace traditional phone companies.

    It argues, in effect, for establishing a government approval process that would be required before any new communications services launch.

    "If the FBI had this power all along, would we even have the Internet today?" said Lee Tien, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

    At the crux of the debate is the fact that communications technologies once tied to telephone carriers' circuit-switched networks are no longer necessarily so.

    Critics say the petition violates the spirit of the original law by seeking to broaden the definition of "communications carriers" to include what amount to information service providers.

    The law thus could apply not only Internet phone systems but also to voice-enabled instant messaging, email and even gaming consoles -- anything that could replace old fashion phone calls.

    Currently, the debate is centered on Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP) services, an increasingly popular technology that converts voice calls into data packets and streams them over the Internet.

    In some cases, wiretapping simply isn't possible. In others, it appears to be but hasn't been fully tested. In all cases, companies say they don't want to trot out new services through the federal bureaucracy before releasing them.

    "Let's just say if I had to get prior approval from this government, I probably would have taken my services to other governments," said Jeff Pulver, founder of Free World Dialup. "If I have an idea, I go for it, I build it up and I do it. Getting permission -- I stopped doing that a long time ago."

    Pulver's service, which amounts to a directory service that links callers but doesn't carry the stream of bits from conversations, doesn't support wiretaps. But such calls could be captured by a caller's Internet service provider, he said.

    When he gets valid subpoenas or court orders, Pulver said he supplies information to authorities. But companies outside the United States would not have to cooperate.

    He mentioned Skype, a peer-to-peer-based telephony service with offices in Estonia and Sweden. Unlike major U.S. providers, Skype scrambles conversations, making it nearly impossible to decipher conversations quickly. Skype spokeswoman Kat James, reached via email, declined to comment.

    Even VoIP companies like 8x8 and Vonage that are capable of -- and willing to comply with -- legal wiretap orders say the petition oversteps its bounds.

    Justice Department officials declined to comment beyond the filing, which requested and appears to have received expedited review by the FCC. The deadline for the first round of comments is set for April 12.

    "It's quite a breathtaking petition, not only in terms of the scope of coverage but also in the ambition of the legal argument," said Marc Rotenberg, director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. "They seem to feel that they can get the FCC to give them what they want without having to go back to Congress."

    As well, a dangerous precedent would be set by broadening the law so that it keeps up with future technologies before they're created.

    "I think you'll start to see applications which have voice components but are not traditionally voice-replacement telephone services," Pulver said. "Does the FBI really want Xbox Live to be tapped?"
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    I read a news report that this is apart of. Seams the Gov. in its great wisdom whats a back door into all software and service from now on so it can " protect its national interests, and the stopping of terreriosm." Big brother thinks that with the increase in the use of the internet for phone, e-mail and video calls along with system security that the only way to protect people is to require all new services, and internet technologies be made were police and "Authorized Agenties " to have and unlock key for them. And yes XBox too.
    I just wish they would really think before they just throw out these things. With so many peolpe online, and worried about privacy and their safety from attacks too many will think this is a good Idea. (just wish I could remember the news service on my handheld i read it from!)
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  3. #3
    Senior Member IKnowNot's Avatar
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    MsMittens I am not seeing the conspiracy here ( but I see things through rose colored glasses ); could you elaborate?

    As far as the topic, very, very, VERY broad. FWIW I will try to comment on highlights as I see them.

    Lawyers, Politicians, and Public Relations people are like Magicians ( oh, I’m sorry, Illusionists ). They misdirect your attention away from what is pertinent to what they want you to see and concentrate on, not what is real and actually happening.

    1st
    The Internet was originally built for communication for scientists by educational institutions funded by the U.S. government. ( no comment on the government reasons, I believe that has been more then adequately documented )

    2nd
    the Telcoms are the ones who provided the means with which to actually transfer information ( who created the backbone, and funded by guess who ? )

    3rd
    Who said anyone has an absolute right to privacy in everything they do? Who and what gives a person that right? ( no flames please, just a comment to think about )


    On the issue of companies that offer telephone service over the internet, who is actually paying for it? And at what cost? So I can connect my telephone to my Comcast Broadband ( which is over priced ) and use up bandwidth utilized by my entire neighborhood, then connect to the Internet with my conversation to wherever again using bandwidth, then to the other party’s Telcom to their phone, and pay another party for this service that did not have to supply the fiber optic lines etc. to make this all possible. So now my broadband slows, my neighbor’s telephone and broadband rates go up, or worse their phone company goes belly-up, just to make this Internet Phone Company some money, and in the short term save a few bucks? Meanwhile they circumvented existing law? What happens to their customers when the law catches up?

    Now back to the thread.

    O.K., about that law (CALEA). It is a double-edged sword. There are those that would use it, and those that would abuse it, granted. But think about this for a minute: What about the Admin in charge of your email server ? Doesn’t he/she have the ability to duplicate and redirect any and all of your email? What are people doing about them? On the same token, people should trust Voip service providers blindly but worry about government intervention?

    How do you identify the bad guy here?

    And is Voip ready anyway ?
    VoIP - Vulnerability over Internet Protocol

    It all goes back to who can make money and how much it will cost them to comply with what they were required to in the first place. But that was not how the Internet was founded ( the good old days ) . It was founded by Geeks with the purpose of exchanging information, it was not about making money. Money should be secondary, knowledge first! But there will always be those simpletons with little understanding or comprehension of the larger picture that would exploit those with true knowledge and vision.

    Rant over ( for now )

    As far as SCO goes, well I think that has been covered in other threads. My opinion? May the flees of a thousand camels infest the armpits of all involved in bringing the suit!
    " And maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it should be" --Miguel Cervantes

  4. #4
    Just a Virtualized Geek MrLinus's Avatar
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    Who said anyone has an absolute right to privacy in everything they do? Who and what gives a person that right? ( no flames please, just a comment to think about )
    In Canada I have the right to privacy. It's required by law (PEPIDA - Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act) that I be told as an individual if information about me is being transmitted to a 3rd party. If a software manufacturer is putting in backdoors so the US government (the 3rd party) can listen in and potential gather information about me without telling me and/or without my permission, then I have some legal options in regards to it.

    In addition, if I use tools that are meant to ensure my privacy (e.g., SSH) and they can still violate it, then my expectation of privacy (which is what privacy laws are often based on) has been compromised and potentially, if I have done anything wrong in the eyes of the law then I might actually have a recourse to get charges tossed because of my privacy being violated. I know in the US there are few laws that actually protect an individual's privacy but many other countries do have them. How will the US government guarantee that I, as a non-US citizen, will be protected from that.

    SCO's recent comments about Open Source being a scourge -- if you will -- by allowing itself to be used to help nations like Korea, Iran, etc. develop weapons or other "advantages" because the software is "free" and widely available. Now that said, we had a discussion elsewhere in regards to wiretapping and pointed out that previous attempts to put in backdoors into open source were caught fairly quickly and removed. It was suggested that it would be hard to put in a backdoor into Open Source apps. So, it made me think.. Hrmmm... I wonder if there's a connection (long stretch but.. *meh* it's possible)
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  5. #5
    Senior Member IKnowNot's Avatar
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    Sorry about my rant but that had been building from reading other threads.
    if I have done anything wrong in the eyes of the law then I might actually have a recourse to get charges tossed because of my privacy being violated.
    A common term for this I believe is “ Fruits of the poisonous tree”
    " And maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it should be" --Miguel Cervantes

  6. #6
    Senior Member RoadClosed's Avatar
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    Ms. Mittens:

    Canada doesn't have current laws that allow the government to listen to phone calls if a court is convinced of criminal activity? Your post about Privacy Law in Canada in regards to 3rd parties, implies there is no such law.
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  7. #7
    Just a Virtualized Geek MrLinus's Avatar
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    Nope. There are wiretap laws but I suspect, given that I've never participated in and rarely see it used, the rules to get them are far more stringent. See this page for more info. I'll try to find the exact legal reference if you want (I have a copy of the Canadian Criminal Code 2003 in my office)
    Goodbye, Mittens (1992-2008). My pillow will be cold without your purring beside my head
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  8. #8
    Senior Member RoadClosed's Avatar
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    Nope that's enough, I think what our government is saying is that those same laws should apply to VOIP. But I don't agree, that would mean tapping the internet. Even voip has a gatway to the telco system, that is where taping should apply. Not in the IP trasit route.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member IKnowNot's Avatar
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    MsMittens that link refers to amendments to existing law.

    did you try PART VI -- Sections 183-196

    looks like the government there has some pretty broad authority
    " And maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it should be" --Miguel Cervantes

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