The FBI has been quietly lobbying top Internet companies to support a proposal that would force the likes Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, and Google to provide backdoors for government surveillance, reported CNET.
The FBI says that in the age of Internet-based communication, it has become increasingly difficult to monitor communications of Americans who might be engaged in illegal activities. The solution, the FBI claims, is a proposed law it drafted that would require that social-networking Web sites and providers of VoIP, instant messaging, and e-mail alter their code to ensure their products are wiretap-friendly.
"If you create a service, product, or app that allows a user to communicate, you get the privilege of adding that extra coding," said an industry representative who reviewed the FBI’s draft legislation. The new wiretapping requirements would only be for Internet companies that reach a certain number of users, yet that number has not yet been disclosed.
Earlier this year the FBI complained about the problem of “Going Dark”—or ineffective wiretap surveillance due to Internet-based communication. In a House Judiciary subcommittee last February on the problem, privacy and cryptography expert Susan Landau said the FBI’s push to build real-time spying capabilities into the software of major Internet companies will harm innovation and introduce security flaws that will be used against American companies, government agencies and citizens.
The current Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) requires telecommunications providers to make their systems wiretap-friendly, yet Web companies are not covered by the law. In another effort, the Federal Communications Commission is pushing to reinterpret CALEA to force video or voice chat over the Internet – from Skype to Google Hangouts to Xbox Live – to include surveillance backdoors, CNET found.