President Obama is reportedly considering endorsing an FBI plan for a new series of laws requiring all Internet companies to build-in to all online systems a “capacity to comply with wiretap orders.”
The Obama Administration, and the Bush Administration before it, have previously tried to expand existing legislation into the Internet, demanding online companies give them virtually limitless access to anything that might be used for communication.
The problem is that an awful lot of existing systems not only don’t have the capability to spy on their users, but in many cases are explicitly designed with privacy in mind. This is the antithesis of the FBI goal of total information awareness.
Which has the FBI pushing for these new laws “requiring” all this software to be revised with their spying in mind. First efforts at the law were stalling in Congress over fear of “stifling innovation,” sparking the new proposal of just fining every company that the Justice Department feels like going after who doesn’t comply.
If President Obama does endorse it, analysts say it could spark a major Congressional debate about privacy, something the FBI clearly doesn’t want. More importantly, however, is that open source software will by definition allow end users to remove all of these wiretapping “features,” which makes the law completely unworkable to a broad segment of communications software.