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Monday, September 27, 2010

U.S. Wants Broader Internet Wiretap Authority

The Obama administration is developing plans that would require all Internet-based communication services such as encrypted BlackBerry e-mail, Facebook, and Skype to be capable of complying with federal wiretap orders, according to a report published Monday.

The bill, which the White House plans to deliver to Congress next year, would require communication service providers be technically capable of intercepting and decrypting messages, raising serious privacy concerns, the Times said.

The proposal has "huge implications" and poses a test to the "fundamental elements of the Internet revolution," vice president of the Center for Democracy and Technology, James Dempsey, told the Times. "They basically want to turn back the clock and make Internet services function the way that the telephone system used to function," he was quoted as saying. Officials contend, however, that without new regulations their ability to prevent attacks could be hindered.

Internet and phone networks are already required to have eavesdropping abilities thanks to a 1994 law called the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act, but the mandate does not apply to communication service providers.

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