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Iran Press TV

Obama to support expansive Internet wiretapping powers

Iran Press TV

Fri May 10, 2013 8:15AM GMT

The Obama administration is likely to approve a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) proposal that would make it easier to tap into many types of Internet communications rather than traditional phone services.

The plan seeks to ensure that all Internet companies in the United States provide a way for the government to conduct undetected, backdoor surveillance.

It tries to overcome the technical and legal obstacles that make it difficult for the FBI and other American intelligence agencies to monitor the so-called voice-over-Internet-protocol (VoIP) services.

The effort would also apply to real-time chat services offered by the online social networking service Facebook, Google and others.

Albert Gidari Jr., an attorney for Google and other information technology companies, said he had been informed of the key provisions in the text, and that Internet service providers would have to produce a way to decipher encrypted communications when demanded to do so by a judge, or else face escalating fines.

'It says if you offer a communication service it has to come with wiretapping capabilities or if not, you better be able to get that capability,' Gidari said.

Under the proposal, officials said, a company that does not comply with the FBI's orders would be fined $25,000 after 90 days.

Additional penalties would then be meted out on every day an Internet service provider, website or other company fails to comply. The price of the penalty would double each day they refuse to help investigators.

Critics argue that such a law would repress technological innovation, deal a blow to small businesses, and create back doors for hackers.

"I think the FBI's proposal would render Internet communications less secure and more vulnerable to hackers and identity thieves," said Gregory T. Nojeim of the Center for Democracy and Technology.

He added, "It would also mean that innovators who want to avoid new and expensive mandates will take their innovations abroad and develop them there, where there aren't the same mandates."


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