“Discovery and invention have made it possible for the government, with means far more effective than stretching upon the rack, to obtain disclosure in court of what is whispered in the closet. … The progress of science is furnishing the Government with means of espionage [on American citizens] that is not likely to stop with wiretapping. ” Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, 1928
WASHINGTON — 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. New York Times, Sep 27, 2010
To wiretap a phone a government law enforcement agency must show cause and obtain a court order from a judge. It is not a difficult hurdle but it does provide a modicum of protection. What the current administration is reportedly proposing is new law authorizing the government to conduct constant surveillance, no specific justification required. We have seen the Presidential offices of both parties create “enemies lists” with the help of governmental agencies. That is bad enough, but our founding fathers had a far greater concern, the vulnerability of the nation’s falling into the hands of a totalitarian leader. Let’s not make it easy. In this regard, the fear is not Obama, but who may follow in years to come.