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FBI Adds to Wiretap Wish List 471

WorkEmail writes "A far-reaching proposal from the FBI, made public Friday, would require all broadband Internet providers, including cable modem and DSL companies, to rewire their networks to support easy wiretapping by police. The FBI's request to the Federal Communications Commission aims to give police ready access to any form of Internet-based communications. If approved as drafted, the proposal could dramatically expand the scope of the agency's wiretap powers, raise costs for cable broadband companies and complicate Internet product development."
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FBI Adds to Wiretap Wish List

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  • by eaglebtc ( 303754 ) * on Saturday March 13, 2004 @05:09AM (#8550671)
    This is completely absurd. I am against wiretapping in principle; however, if the government wants to mess with the operation of a private entity, then that private entity (the ISP) should be justly compensated for their time and effort. The government should pay for the upgrades, not the consumer. While I'm on the subject of payment, let's assume that the FBI requires the use of wiretapping in less than 1% of all its investigations. So they want to force 99% of the people to pay for something they only need for 1% of the time?

    Bottom line: The FBI can go piss on itself. Fuck the system.


  • Stock Tip (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BinBoy ( 164798 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @05:11AM (#8550673) Homepage
    Invest in encryption products.
  • You watch.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 13, 2004 @05:14AM (#8550681)
    Next, they will come for your encryption. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow... but soon.
  • Encryption (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Aurix ( 610383 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @05:16AM (#8550686)
    Makes you wonder when we're all going to be forced to use high-grade encryption for all connections across the Internet....
  • by netnerd.caffinated ( 473121 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @05:16AM (#8550691)
    if they can't, then whats the point. anyone who's doing anything illegal & knows the FBI can listen in, will just encrypt.
    Big waste of time

  • by jtwJGuevara ( 749094 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @05:17AM (#8550693)
    I concur with the parent. However, the consumers will end up paying for the wiretapping regadless, whether the ISP's are forced to do the upgrade themselves, or if the FBI funds since the FBI is funded with everyone American's dollars.

    Regardless, this is pretty intrusive on the FBI's part. Even though it isn't a blatant intrusion into our private lines located within our home, it may as well be, since our direct line to the internet for 99.9% of the population runs through commercial ISP's. I hope someone cries foul on this proposal in support for the protection of privacy. However, with the state of most American's line of thinking, such a hope is far-fetched.

  • by velo_mike ( 666386 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @05:20AM (#8550705)
    The government should pay for the upgrades, not the consumer.

    Either way, the consumer ends up paying, be it in the form of increased access fees or a tax hike or, most likely with our govt, just tacking it on to the deficit. Bottom line: The FBI can go piss on itself. Fuck the system


  • by RLiegh ( 247921 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @05:26AM (#8550720) Homepage Journal
    Seriously. It's nice (esp since I just got cable), but once it becomes Yet Another Intrusive Tool, I -for one- will go back to reading and ordering cds through catalogs or buying them in person.

    The internet isn't a necessity, particularly if survellience becomes unavoidable.
  • by UnassumingLocalGuy ( 660007 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @05:29AM (#8550729) Homepage Journal
    /me looks at the U. S. Constitution and cries.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 13, 2004 @05:32AM (#8550734)
    ISP's are obliged by law to install wiretapping devices and provide internet connectivity to police to use these wiretapping devices. There's no warrant necessary to wiretap. Best of all, all encryption standards (except GOST, which comes from the government) are outlawed, so you can get hard time for using PGP. I haven't heard about anyone getting sued for using strong crypto, though, so it looks like these laws are not enfoced.

    So, on paper, run-of-the mill SSL is illegal in Russia?
  • by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @05:32AM (#8550735)
    ON the other hand, if the government pays for the upgrades, it will be with tax dollars, so either way the consumer/citizen gets screwed. And, actually, if you look at the number of court cases that are successfully prosecuted nationwide using legitimately-garnered wiretap evidence, it's more like forcing 99.99999% of the people to pay for something the FBI needs only .000001% of the time, or worse. Ridiculous on the face of it: all the numbers I've been able to find simply don't justify this ongoing crusade for advanced wiretapping capabilities. Those boys just hate like hell to have anything kept from them. The problem, as I see it, is that the ease with which the FBI (and the Federal Government in general) was able to grab new powers in the wake of 9/11 has simply encouraged them to go for more of the same, although they've been trying for a national wiretap center for a long time prior to that. This is much like the FBI excesses decades ago, under Hoover, that resulted in Congressionally-mandated restraints upon its' behavior. Back then, of course, wiretapping was a relatively simple affair involving a lineman's handset and a pair of clip leads. Times have changed, and in the modern world the costs of allowing them to run in this open-loop fashion for very long are going to be significant, both in terms of money (tax dollars or on your Internet bill, take your pick) as well as civil-liberty abuse. Congress is the only entity that has the power to reign these people in, and I don't see a lot of effort being expended there on our behalf.
  • Re:Stock Tip (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cperciva ( 102828 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @05:34AM (#8550743) Homepage
    You really think they have time to look at the data contents of your packets? That takes time and human resources... what they're interested in watching is your packet headers, which aren't going to be encrypted.

    This is all about traffic analysis. They can work out who is talking to whom over the air via the NSA's listening network (or rather, GCHQ's network, via reciprocal "let's get around domestic spying laws" deals), but they need hardware on the wires to look at those packets.

    Sure, if you're under investigation, they might use this hardware to log the contents of your traffic; but they'd do that anyway. These changes are about identifying possible suspects based on who they associate with.
  • Re:Civil Protest (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @05:40AM (#8550750)
    Or simply encrypt your transmissions. The Federal Government has been aware of this possibility for many years (predating the opening of the Internet to the public) and tried mightily to get encryption effectively outlawed for private use. Fortunately they failed that time around, but that doesn't mean they won't try again. If all significant Internet traffic was adequately encrypted it wouldn't much matter if they could tap the packets, it would be too costly to decrypt it. That's where it's heading anyway, if nothing else to keep the RIAA from peeking at our upload folders. The question is whether or not the Feds have the balls to try and make that illegal.
  • by SyKOStarchild ( 576577 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @05:40AM (#8550751)
    I am thinking, even if they rewired it, we'd just use point to point encryption and all they'd get is traffic info, not content.

    I am thinking more a kerberos solution. Literal streaming encryption.

    Even so, they know as well as any tech geeks do that its a smokescreen, a feel-good, a deliberate overextension so that when its denied, less extreme but still invasive suggestions look fine by comparison.

  • by Grym ( 725290 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @05:41AM (#8550754)

    I can't believe the government is actually considering putting a backdoor in every cable modem. Karnivore, while of debatable, legitimacy, is at the very least, secure because its physical components are kept very far away from crackers (in secured buildings of Tier one providers). Thus, it works on a fairly good premise of obscurity and limited access.

    If this type of backdoor was inside the cable/DSL modem next to your computer, imagine how quickly both the obscurity and limited access factors disappear. You can kiss any type of sibilance of security on the internet goodbye because, in no time, every script kiddie running windows will be able to packet sniff your computer.

    Sometimes, I really wonder how highly funded groups like the FBI can ignore common sense problems. If there's ONE thing I think we've all learned in the past twenty years in regards to computer security is: if it's even minutely possible for them to do so, they (geeks) will figure it out. If you put an encryption scheme on every DVD drive in the world, they will figure it out. If you don't address a security bug in a prominent piece of software, they will figure it out. And if you put some uber-packet sniffing device on every cable/DSL modem in the country, they will figure it out with probably an extra sense of haste.

    So if this does come to pass, how long do you think it'll take for it to be cracked? My guess is a week. *sigh* Your hard earned tax dollars at work.


  • by zeruch ( 547271 ) <zeruch&deviantart,com> on Saturday March 13, 2004 @05:41AM (#8550756) Homepage
    ...among many other opportunities, to use the sharp minds many here claim to have and contact your writing. on paper. that will always bear more attention than an email (or even a phone call).

    People really need to stop bitching about this stuff in web fora and actually try to interface with the people that can put a stop to some of these intrusive inanities.
  • by velo_mike ( 666386 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @05:45AM (#8550768)
    I don't actually know where i stand as of yet, but im in Australia so it's all good - we probably wont get the technology for another 25 year

    May I point you to my favorite civil libertarian [] author's thoughts on the subject of privacy [].

  • Re:1984 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Felinoid ( 16872 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @05:47AM (#8550771) Homepage Journal
    I got a better one..

    George Orwell is a man ahead of his time...
    20 years to be exact: 1984 - 2004.
  • FBI (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Vexware ( 720793 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @06:01AM (#8550815) Homepage

    I am pretty sure that the majority of Internet users have nothing to hide, and are involved in no illegal activities, or at least no such activies that would be of interest to the anti-terror force that is the FBI, but privacy is one of the most basic principles of a free society, and making broadband users pay more so that the perverse desires of some unknown FBI agent "searching for terrorists" can be fulfilled is, in my opinion, outraging. The FBI already has some power when it comes to eavesdropping on the Internet, but breaching the privacy of the gigantic Broadband userbase of the USA, when they only need to track a few individuals, is I think horribly exaggarating.

    What have the Broadband ISPs said about this? They stick to revolting against delivering confidential information of their heavily downloading clients, but they don't even try to stick a word in when their whole userbase's privacy is at risk?

  • Some implications (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tehanu ( 682528 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @06:01AM (#8550816)
    Besides the privacy, police-state implications that I'm sure other people will point out, here are several points:

    Firstly, if there is a easily available backdoor for everything, what's to stop criminals and terrorists from using it as well? People don't seriously think that they are not going to be able to get the technical information easily. Especially if *every* software program that allows communication the way they describe requires these backdoors. There's no-way you can keep all those civilian mouths shut. These backdoors will be built-in security holes. Just like mandating only low-level encryption may mean that it is easier for the US government to break into your data, but it also makes it easier for criminals to do so as well. The likely ease with which the technical information will spread will mean that hackers will probably make versions of the programs w/o the backdoors and spread them through the underground. Real (smart) criminals and terrorists will use these backdoorless programs leaving the American government to spy on harmless citizens and the inept.

    Secondly, I can see governments like China rejecting any protocol or programs which has these backdoors installed. They are already paranoid enough about rumoured backdoors. If they are sure they exist (say through a FCC mandate) they are going to drop American software like a hot stone. While the Chinese government is a police state and would love the ability to spy on their *own* people, the last thing they want is to allow the American government to spy on *them*. Other countries, like the EU, UK might have a few qualms of letting the US government spy on *them*, though I wouldn't put it past them (esp. the UK ie. Blunkett) to start thinking of mandating their own spyware for their citizens....Say goodbye to the American software export industry...

    I also wonder how these things would work in conjunction with Trusted Computing?

    The last thing is, I presume that all rules and regulations will apply to open source software as well. So I guess all open source developers of the mentioned program types will have to submit their programs to the US government for approval before they can release it. And how does this affect the open source nature of development if you need government oversight *every* time you want to release any sort of new code?
  • by Xabraxas ( 654195 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @06:08AM (#8550834)
    If we are going to pay for them with taxes, then they should not be in the form of additional taxes. Rather, the legislature needs to tighten its purse-strings: cut social programs, reduce administrative salaries, and put the money back into where it needs to go: defense and public works.

    I disagree. Social programs have been decimated in the past four years. The Great Society has been destroyed in favor of corporations and the wealthy. Defense spending has been astronomical and does not need to get any bigger. If greater power is given for wiretapping we will be running headlong into a police state. At this point the government already has too much power and needs to cut money out of programs that only serve to arm the government to the teeth, only to attack its own citizens and other nations unilateraly. If we need anything right now it's programs that will get the people of this country back on their feet.

  • by sosume ( 680416 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @06:31AM (#8550894) Journal
    If approved as drafted, the proposal could dramatically expand the scope of the agency's wiretap powers, raise costs for cable broadband companies and complicate Internet product development .. what about the US turning into a police state. I'd say that's quite a bit more disturbing than paying a few bucks.
  • Re:You watch.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by identity0 ( 77976 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @06:32AM (#8550897) Journal
    That is sort of inevitable, I think, given the post-9-11 power grab and fearmongering we've seen. They'll at least try to ban strong encryption, if not an outright decree to use government-escrowed keys.

    It makes me almost glad that we went through the nonsense with encryption during previous administrations - first the Phil Zimmerman prosecution, export controls, and even the Clipper chip attempt. It mobilized & organized a whole lot of pro-encryption people who otherwise would not have cared. The arguments for encryption controls were mostly theoretical and less fear-inducing before the current climate of fear, too. It actually made us stronger, I think. If we had never gone through that and the administration now banned strong encryption, we would be scrambling to come up with good arguments for allowing encryption, and the public hysteria over "secret terrorist messages" would probobly drown us out given the current media climate.

    Man, who would've thought during the Clinton administration that we'd be nostalgic for those days? Ah, Janet Reno, Louis Freeh, Phil Zimmerman, Clipper... great times, eh?
  • by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @06:42AM (#8550922)
    Or better yet- keep the much needded social projects and drop a few less bombs next year.
  • by HeghmoH ( 13204 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @06:53AM (#8550940) Homepage Journal
    This is very tin-foil hat. There is absolutely no evidence that reasonable crypto like blowfish, AES, or RSA can be cracked without enormous amounts (read: more than currently exists) of computing power if you use a reasonable key size. The NSA may have some top-notch people, but the private sector has more. If some amazing mathematical technique were discovered that made cracking these problems tractable, it's extremely implausible that it could be discovered inside NSA and never get independently discovered. The same goes for magical computing techniques that would allow these things to be cracked with existing math.
  • No... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @06:59AM (#8550948) Homepage Journal
    They'll simply speak in code that they agreed upon offline. If a bunch of guys agree offline that one of them posting a "first post" troll on slashdot means "plant the bombs on the bridges tonight and detonate them at rush hour tomorrow," no one's going to catch that except the intended audience.

    You might net the Martha Stewarts of the world with wiretaps, but with most criminals you'll have better luck just siezing all their gear and reading their hard drives anyway. For domestic terrorists, conventional surveilance methods seem to fall short anyway, so in either case I'd have a hard time justifying the added cost of being able to tap their internet communications.

    I think the best way of defeating terrorists may be education. Convince the people who tend to turn a blind eye to suspicious activities out of misguided loyalty that ignoring those activities is not beneficial to their community or cause. Take Iraq for instance. Terrorists there are merrily targetting Iraqi citizens at least as much as they are American troops. A lot of the people there blame the USA for "not providing enough security," but how many of those same people are letting those same terrorists crash at their houses, or know someone who is? As long as those people tolerate it, the problem will not go away.

  • by CanadianCrackPot ( 727998 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @07:02AM (#8550954)
    In other news today the FBI's tech support department all quit citing their superiors stupidity as the main cause. "I just can't take it anymore, thier lack of internet knowledge astounds me." one former employee stated before storming off. Another replied "You don't even need new hard wired devices to do this, or back doors built into IM protocols, they're already in PLAIN TEXT!!!!!" another stated before having to be sedated....
  • Re:NSA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HeghmoH ( 13204 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @07:22AM (#8550987) Homepage Journal
    According to Charles Stross, the CIA has a cache of alien portals that they use to travel to other planets, and the Russians are keeping Cthulhu in a bunker near the Baltic Sea.

    What was your point?
  • Re:Silly Feds (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 13, 2004 @07:43AM (#8551031)
    I've had a detective show up twice at my ISP and ask to see records for IP addresses regarding a criminal investigation (eBay fraud, as it turned out). He was amazed that we didn't have *all* traffic ....

    You shouldn't give them any traffic unless they have a warrant. The police are not all bad but if they don't have their search approved by a judge, they'll get in the habbit of poppong round just to take a peek.
  • Never felt safer (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @07:45AM (#8551036) Homepage Journal
    Of course the FBI should get whatever they want. They're doing such a great job, moving from strength to strength. I trust them more than ever, and I grew up with J. Edgar Hoover.
  • by visualight ( 468005 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @07:56AM (#8551063) Homepage
    You sound kinda outta control, and some people might say thats counter productive. But your comments made me realize what's been missing. RAGE. It was there in the Viet Nam protests, it was there in the civil rights movement, where is it now? Something has effectively castrated/pacifed the American people. Video games, VCR's, internet porn, etc. We now have so many escape mechanisms to hide inside, we can't seem to stay mad past the weekend.

    On a side note, does anyone notice a kind of resignation to laws like the Patriot Act now? Like we're waiting for after the election, we're assuming that it'll go away then? I have and it bothers me. There should actually be a massive campaign to FIRE EACH AND EVERY ENCUMBENT FROM EVERY OFFICE IN THE COUNTRY if the Patriot Act isn't completely repealed BEFORE the elections.

    Hmph. A campaign like that would probably be labeled a terrorist act or extortion or something. I've no faith left.
  • into your net connection, then doesn't it make it easier for a script kiddie to tap into your net connection also and intercept what you're doing?

    Or spyware for that matter.
  • Re:This is WAR!! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:38AM (#8551141) Homepage
    Stop being so politically correct. The fact of the matter is that this is a holy war waged by a bunch of religious fanatics. They WANT to die so they may be blessed by Alah and a hundred virgins in the afterlife.

    If they won't listen to reason, then they will have to answer by our might. Sorry to spell out the sick sad truth. No one ever said war was pretty, just a fact of life that has been part of Human history...and perhaps into the future as well.

    Remember, we are all animals. Some just happen to be more civilized then others.

  • Re:NSA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HeghmoH ( 13204 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:51AM (#8551162) Homepage Journal
    People have been crashing airplanes into things in order to destroy them for sixty years. Even in the terrorist world, this idea predates Debt of Honor; an Algerian terrorist group hijacked a French airliner with the intention of crashing it into the Eiffel Tower in 1994, the same year that the book was released. Fortunately, they stopped for fuel and negotiations, and the plane was raided before they could take off. Planning operations like that takes time, so it's very doubtful it was inspired by the book.

    I have never heard anything that indicates Clancy has special sources into the military and intelligence community. Hunt for Red October caused a tizzy in the Navy because it was so accurate about various things, but it was discovered that he simply did a hell of a lot of research using public sources. Unfortunately, his later books have slid rather downhill.

    The idea that the NSA has a quantum computer powerful enough to be used to crack cryptography while private researchers are struggling to make ones that can factor the number 15 is ridiculous. Working for the NSA does not automatically turn you into a Grade A genius, so their genius population is necessarily limited and proportionate to the level found in the private sector.

    I know that it's fun and exciting to believe that the NSA, CIA, and FBI are these amazing, magical places where things can be done that can't be done in the regular work-a-day world, and certainly this image is constantly perpetuated by books and movies, but reality is more mundane. They are government bureaucracies like all others, which happen to work in a certain area and are reasonably good at getting their job done. They are populated by people; inexperienced new guys, career politicians, mediocre middle managers, etc.
  • I am frightened (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0x0d0a ( 568518 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:53AM (#8551165) Journal
    Legal experts said the 85-page filing includes language that could be interpreted as forcing companies to build back doors into everything from instant messaging and voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) programs to Microsoft's Xbox Live game service. The introduction of new services that did not support a back door for police would be outlawed, and companies would be given 15 months to make sure that existing services comply.

    I am going to keep in mind that this is seen through the filter of cnet, which tends to be somewhat Slashdottish -- kind of liberal, pro-tech, anti-regulation. I really need to see the "85-page document" to decide.

    That being said, this is possibly the most disturbing thing I have heard proposed from the federal government yet. Besides the obvious issues of holding back innovation, I find the privacy issues unacceptable. If you want to wiretap someone, fine. Go to wherever they are, and use a parabolic mic or physical bug or something similar. Yes, it doesn't let you tap the population en-masse. There is no justifiable reason for this request. The only thing it does is make cheap, easy, and hard-to-detect-abuse-of wiretapping much more feasible and tempting. I *want* it to be a pain in the ass to wiretap people. It's worked well for hundreds of years, and I see no reason to change this.

    I also want to make it clear that I will not follow any such directives requiring programs to including monitoring backdoors. If I have to, I will develop anonymously, through Freenet or similar (no, I'm not brave enough to do something like this openly as a protest and get hammered for it), but I will not begin inserting backdoors into the software I work on.

    I am absolutely appalled that something like this would be suggested. It is the sort of thing that people that I considered "tin foil hatters" were worrying about for a long time. I would like to see an EFF analysis of this. If this is as bad as the article makes it out to be, this will be the thing that tips me over the edge to sending money to the EFF.

    I would like to know what evidence cnet has for claiming that the Bush administration backs this. If they really are, they are going well beyond even what I thought Ashcroft's most tyrannical police-state aspirations were.

    Among other things, I claim that this will:

    * Limit innovation. This is a *real* issue, not a "we can't bundle Internet Explorer and now innovation is being suppressed" whine. Putting backdoors in protocols is a serious issue.

    * Damage US credibility internationally when it comes to secure software. The cryptographic export restrictions did a phenomenal amount of damage to the US computer security industry, and let foreigners take over the market. When you want smartcard systems, you don't go to a US company. This is absolutely unacceptable, as computer security is becoming ever more important as more and more people are using it.

    * Provide an impediment to international software projects. The United States is not the world, nor is it even "effectively universal" on the Internet. If you ban something like development of a VoIP system without key escrow, development will simply move overseas. Sure, you could make *using* software without escrow a federal offense (thank you Britain, which has set the path for this wonderfully stupid approach). It will do *nothing* to stop propagation of software. The last time the FBI tried to meddle with the Internet via legislation like this was when they arrested Mr. Zimmerman for releasing PGP. It *didn't work*, and wouldn't have protected their ability to snoop on people. We have come up with many approaches to deal with US laws limiting computer security, and can be used again in this case.

    * Is stunningly short-sighted. You can't make a single effective law like this. What if I ssh to a system and use an IM system there to talk to someone else on the same system (and I *have* sshed in and used talk or phone on a Unix or VMS system before).
  • Re:This is WAR!! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0x0d0a ( 568518 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @08:59AM (#8551174) Journal
    I want those fucking Islamic extremists killed on the spot.

    I suspect many of them would like to see people like you wiped out on the spot for suppressing their religion, intimidating and screwing with their country and economy, etc.

    9/11 al Queda members didn't wake up one day and decide, for no reason at all, to spend their own lives to try to hurt people they saw as oppressors. There was a reason that they feel the way they do, and I doubt that trying to use force and intimidation is going to work all that well. It didn't work for the Soviets (and they could be awfully brutal). It just makes more people that hate you enough to die to hurt you.

    But, whatever. Bush doesn't need to solve the terrorist problem to get votes. He needs to make people feel good to get votes. And beating the crap out of someone makes people feel good.
  • Re:Silly Feds (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 0x0d0a ( 568518 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @09:07AM (#8551184) Journal
    The problem that I have doesn't derive from their technical illiteracy.

    It's the fact that they consider it politically acceptable for a complete log of everything everyone does on their computer to be kept. Forever. Seriously, *what* the *fuck*.

    I wish to God I could send encrypted email to people, but they refuse to use PGP (probably because it's a fucking pain in the ass to use with most clients -- mutt and *perhaps* Mozilla are the only clients I've seen that are acceptably usable, and both requires a fair amount of technical configuration work that Joe Blow cannot do). The front ends really suck. The only time I ever found someone that I wanted to send an email to (a major open source author) that also provided a PGP key, I got a "sorry, I only keep my key at work -- can you send this again in plaintext unless it's confidential?". Sigh.

    If PGP were idiot-proof, easy-to-use, and bundled with email clients, it would be *everywhere*. However, PGP is *useless* if the only person I know of that regularly uses it is me (and since I'm the only one that can do so, I can just sign emails).

    I wish people would set up PGP and use it. They don't have to encrypt their emails, just sign them. People will start picking up on the fact that PGP is being used, and then will start encrypting emails to them....
  • by WanderingFighter ( 756255 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @09:15AM (#8551196)
    This is ludacris. Doesn't the FBI have better things to do than raise prices of Broadband so they can spy on us? This is all for home intruision. Not only will they just moniter internet traffic, Downloads, Uploads So this will make it easier for them to run to the RIAA like a little kid telling on someone.
  • Well a few points. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by yoshi_mon ( 172895 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @09:32AM (#8551223)
    Broadband providers say the FBI's request would, for the first time, force cable providers that sell broadband to come under the jurisdiction of 1994's Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), which further defined the already existing statutory obligations of telecommunications carriers to help police conduct electronic surveillance. Telephone companies that use their networks to sell broadband have already been following CALEA rules.

    Ok, fair enough I suppose. But the fact however, as has been pointed out here, is that not all programs are being written in the US. To make IM, VoIP, IRC, and or whatever other type of program that allows communication over IP have backdoors is bad enough. But to expect that every program on the planet has one is just downright silly. But, thats not really the bad part...

    Under CALEA, police must still follow legal procedures when wiretapping Internet communications. Depending on the situation, such wiretaps do not always require court approval, in part because of expanded wiretapping powers put in place by the USA Patriot Act.

    Bad, bad, bad. Is it so much to ask for due process here? I mean it's part of our own set of friggen laws. Is it so much to ask that the Feds follow the laws before they make new ones?
  • by Nice2Cats ( 557310 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @09:33AM (#8551225)
    Germany already has such laws, and the ISPs have been screaming about the costs ever since. The government's reaction: Tough. If you don't like it , go sell Bratwurst instead.

    The sick thing about all Internet wiretapping is that when asked why this is required, the cops always just say "child pornography", and everybody rolls over; the media has created the impression that about every second byte transmitted has something to do with child porn. Between our War on Terrorism (With an Occasional Aside for Oil) and child porn Internet hysteria, we have two beautiful excuses to slowly rip up the Bill of Rights, piece by piece.

    Here comes the next shred.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 13, 2004 @09:33AM (#8551226)
    If every net connection becomes so easy for the cops/kiddies to sniff, maybe this will be a strong enough incentive for the developpers out there to implement good encryption (ssl/tls?) in every internet protocol
  • The Great Society is a socialist state. We need less government, less welfare, less projects, less help. The government does not exist to help people. It exists to protect people. But protection, in my opinion, does not mean protection from the realities of life.
  • by 0x0d0a ( 568518 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @09:48AM (#8551254) Journal
    The problem isn't in allowing LEA access to what they want. It's making sure there's a process they have to go through to get them, which prevents them from getting the information when they shouldn't be.

    We have one. It's called "the current system", where if you want to tap someone's VoIP connection you have to stick someone out by their house with a parabolic mic or plant a bug in their house. This makes for a wonderful check on the system -- LEAs simply can't *afford* to monitor each and every person, do fishing expeditions, or do the sort of thing the French claim in the form of Echelon. I rather like this system. It means that if the police *really* want to bug someone, like a mob boss, they can, but they can't just wildly run out and monitor huge swaths of society.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 13, 2004 @09:53AM (#8551259)
    In principle I have no objection to altering the existing wiretap laws to account for new technologies such as VoIP. However, make no mistake that once this occurs, the next thing on the chopping block are encryption products. The argument will be "We cannot effectively monitor terrorists and child pornographers because strong encryption has become commonplace."

    We'll be back to either mandating weaker forms of encryption or requiring backdoors be installed at the encrypted tunnel layer. SSL/TLS, IPSec and SSH all come to mind (key escrow, anybody?). By designating the tunnel endpoints as "service providers" (they ARE in fact providing some sort of service or else you wouldn't be communicating with them), they could require a backdoor be installed at the endpoint.

    Shape of things to come...

  • Re:Civil Protest (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wcdw ( 179126 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @10:09AM (#8551293) Homepage
    Unfortunately, the best hope for ubiquitous encryption -- O.E. via FreeSWAN -- does not appear to have caught on.

    Then again, how many people have access to their reverse DNS information?

    Then, too, there is _NO WAY_ I am going to be able to send an encrypted message to my mother, unless the process is COMPLETELY transparent.

    In the case of a lot of users, that implies support built into WinDoze. And frankly, I wouldn't trust that any such support did NOT contain a government-enabled back-door.

    Can you say Catch-22?
  • by hachete ( 473378 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @11:31AM (#8551629) Homepage Journal
    In a democracy, the govt does want you want it to do. If I want a Great Society or a dog-eat-dog authoritarian state, then that's up to me at the ballot box. Of course, if you're stuffing these ideas down my throat, well, don't expect to be called freedom-loving at the end of it.

    Bugging on such a large scale always comes up against the "little elves" problem - you have more data than you can possibly sift. The real question is, do you want to fund what amounts to a giant needle-in-the-haystack search which will be less efficient - and more expensive - than what you've got now. Of course, being emporer of those little elves will be fun and powerful; I'm just waiting for a J Edgar Hoover figure too step-to and start flashing all this data at the right people. Of course, he should have the dresses to match...

    At the end of the day, the FBI problems are *social problems* and the only way to do that is to talk to people. No amount of electronics. Ooops. This is slashdot, my bad.

    Sigs? We don't need no steenkin sigs!
  • by Gojira Shipi-Taro ( 465802 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @11:50AM (#8551717) Homepage
    You mean the Johnson administration? That was more than a few years ago.

    If you think deficit spending started "a few years ago" or with the current administration, you're sadly deluded.
  • by Ubergrendle ( 531719 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @11:57AM (#8551747) Journal
    Canada has far more social systems in place than the US. Until the early 1990s, you could argue the Canadian government was more authoritarian than life in the US, especially given the higher tax burden. Since the past 10 years, however, I think you'd be a fool to make that argument.

    I've never heard of the US called "The Great Society", but if you think things like education, healthcare, social security, and pensions are the makings of an authoritarian regime, then you really need to reconsider your perspective in a worldwide context.
  • Re:This is WAR!! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BCoates ( 512464 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @12:08PM (#8551797)
    I suspect many of them would like to see people like you wiped out on the spot for suppressing their religion, intimidating and screwing with their country and economy, etc.

    9/11 al Queda members didn't wake up one day and decide, for no reason at all, to spend their own lives to try to hurt people they saw as oppressors. There was a reason that they feel the way they do[...]

    Sure they have reasons for what they do. That doesn't make those reasons legitimate, or compatible with what the rest of the world wants. Violent political islamists like al-Queda want the west to go away because it's corrupting their youth and an embarrasement to the idea that the way for the arab world to regain its lost glory is by looking backward and turing to ever-stricter forms of Islam.

    It would actually be possible to give them what they want, and they would probably go away, or at least focus on the fact that their homelands aren't nearly as pious as they'd like...but, it'd me much less inconvenient to western civilization to just blow them off the face of the earth.

    and I doubt that trying to use force and intimidation is going to work all that well. It didn't work for the Soviets (and they could be awfully brutal). It just makes more people that hate you enough to die to hurt you.

    The Soviets actually wanted to do what Noam Chomsky and friends accuse the US of doing; traditional imperialism, taking over and enslaving the locals to extract resources (rather than just buying the resources from them, and yes there is a difference). The US funding the local opposition against the Soviets couldn't have helped their cause either.

    The US is being reasonably careful at not killing people that aren't trying to destroy the west. Avoiding Soviet-style brutality makes us more effective, not less.
  • by buss_error ( 142273 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @12:16PM (#8551837) Homepage Journal
    Bad, bad, bad. Is it so much to ask for due process here? I mean it's part of our own set of friggen laws. Is it so much to ask that the Feds follow the laws before they make new ones?

    Yes. Now sit down, shut up, and QUIT ASKING QUESTIONGS. ZIEG HEIL! Protect the Father er... HOME Land!

    Seriously, these things start out with the whole kit and kabootle thrown in. Unless congress is asleep at the switch (and many times they are) a lot of it gets thown out. In this "wish list", they are throwing in child porn and terrorism to get the knee jerk votes. If there are no pressing things happening (like 9-11), then a lot will be pared out and thown away. Unfortunately, the current US government seems content to allow almost anything in the name of "security".

    Now, when are they really going to focus on security? That's a damn good question. All the "increased" "security" I see at airports and shipping terminals seems designed to irritate the general public by thowing a "we're doing something about security" in their face more than to actually increase security in any way. People tend to forget that Nazi Germany, North Korea and China are/were very secure. The question is do we in the US wish to follow those examples?

  • by 87C751 ( 205250 ) <> on Saturday March 13, 2004 @12:31PM (#8551939) Homepage
    We need less government, less welfare, less projects, less help.
    Almost. How about no welfare, no projects and no help? You're absolutely right that the gov. has no business protecting us from ourselves. But the meme is strong, having been birthed by the Great Depression. Natural economic law would have had the US tank at that point because the economic system failed. But the government stepped in and suspended reality. That suspension is still in effect, as vast sums of money extorted from the public at large are dedicated to supporting otherwise useless societal units. But that fits right in with the unslakeable thirst for power that drives our "leaders". Face it, they won't be satisfied until they achieve their optimal balance: 50% police state, 50% welfare state.
  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @12:42PM (#8551990) Homepage Journal
    This is just part of the natural progression of total control and monitoring of the public.

    This will pass, and people will accept it since it 'protects me'..

    Eventually we will get to ongoing monitoring of all activities, regardless of any suspicion.. Even in your own home...

    Don't laugh, if you don't see it coming, then you are a fool.
  • by Kevin DeGraaf ( 220791 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @12:58PM (#8552054) Homepage
    The religious right must've spooged in their shorts when the supreme court handed the Presidency to Bush

    I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "religious right", but I think I fit that description (Christian, pro-life, opposed to gay marriage, etc.) and I hate this administration. I despise Bush the retard, Cheney the evil money man, and Ashcroft the tyrant fascist.

    I guess my point is to be careful painting people with such a broad brush...
  • Worse than China? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by incom ( 570967 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @01:20PM (#8552156)
    Does China even have something this nasty? In some ways I'd prefer a nationwide firewall to this.
  • by Nightlight3 ( 248096 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @01:22PM (#8552166)
    However, the consumers will end up paying for the wiretapping regadless, whether the ISP's are forced to do the upgrade themselves, or if the FBI funds since the FBI is funded with everyone American's dollars.

    Yes, but if government pays, the cost is distributed much wider than if your ISP pays (where you pay much larger share). If the 260 million want to enjoy the "benefits" of the FBI's snooping into my computer, then 260 million ought to pay for it, not just me and my ISP.

  • by aastanna ( 689180 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @01:32PM (#8552216)
    Can't have it both ways. If the WTC was an act of war, then all the people being held without trial in guantanimo (sp) bay should be prisoners of war and subject to the geneva convention, instead of being "enemy combatants" and tortured.
  • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) * on Saturday March 13, 2004 @01:35PM (#8552236) Journal
    They've only got 8 more months to do this shit. I'm a fiscally conservative (and social moderate) Republican, but IF I vote it'll be for Kerry.

    Why if you vote? Get out and do it! Make a difference.

    I guess I'll have to deal with that Massachusetts asshat Kerry raising my taxes and giving welfare mothers more of my money for 4 years, but it's better than the fascist fucks in office right now.

    I'd suspect that you see better budgets and smaller deficts with Kerry in office then Dubya. The Republicans don't get to claim they are the party of fiscal responsibility anymore. Clinton managed to balance the budget -- Reagan and Dubya tanked it in the name of defense spending.

  • by Amiga Trombone ( 592952 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @01:46PM (#8552295)
    Social programs have been decimated in the past four years. The Great Society has been destroyed in favor of corporations and the wealthy. Defense spending has been astronomical and does not need to get any bigger. If greater power is given for wiretapping we will be running headlong into a police state. At this point the government already has too much power and needs to cut money out of programs that only serve to arm the government to the teeth, only to attack its own citizens and other nations unilateraly. If we need anything right now it's programs that will get the people of this country back on their feet.

    Well, for a start, the federal government has a constitutional mandate to provide for a common defense. It doesn't have any constitutional authority to take money away from Party A to spend on benefits for Party B. But I'd certainly agree that the government's military/intelligence activities are far in excess of anything that could be legitimately called "defense".

    Both of them are a symptom of the same problem, namely, that our government has long ago slipped off of the leash the Constitution was intended to be.

    Now, we have to figure out how to get the leash back on....
  • by Jagasian ( 129329 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @02:03PM (#8552380)
    Brute forcing asymetric encryption is impossible once the key size reaches a certain bit length, as the brute force operation is exponential in the length of the keys. You would eventually get the point where it would take the entire life of the universe to crack the keys.
  • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) * on Saturday March 13, 2004 @02:17PM (#8552448) Journal
    But that's exactly my point. In your original post you suggested that the attack on the world trade centre was an act of war. I'm suggesting that if you don't treat any of the combatants the way you would soldiers you can't call the attack on the WTC an act of war.

    It was an act of war. Just because they don't wear uniforms and don't act like soldiers doesn't mean it isn't an act of war. If the Japanese had sabotaged the fleet at Pearl Harbor using intelligence officers instead of airplanes would that have meant it wasn't an act of war?

    My whole point is that in a war (declared or not) if you don't wear a uniform and don't obey the Geneva Convention yourself then don't expect us to do the same if we capture you because we are under no obligation to do so.

    I didn't catch your "torture" comment in the first line either. Do you really think we are torturing those people? Maybe some physiological warfare (sleep deprivation) but I highly doubt we are cutting off genitals or using electro-shock to get the information we want. In any case they are being treated a hellva lot nicer then they would have treated any Americans they captured. Care to remember Daniel Pearl or Johnny Spann?

    Terrorists and those that support them deserve their fates. I'll start worrying about the Geneva Convention when the cowards have the balls to face us on an actual battlefield instead of blowing up our civilians. And don't give me the "It's the only way they have to fight" bullshit -- we managed to achieve our independence from the most powerful empire in the World (the British) without blowing up women and children in downtown London.

  • by aastanna ( 689180 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @02:48PM (#8552693)
    It's not a war because there's no other side. At least with the Japanese there is a definite enemy, and you can win the war when they formally surrender. You can't declare war on an idea.

    When I said torture I was refering to sleep deprivation. Sure, there are worse things you could do to someone, but how long have they been there now, a year or more?

    The real problem is when you look at things in black and white, good and evil terms you never stop to examine the evil you may be doing yourself (not that you're personally responsible, it's your society, but that's another issue).

    Painting terrorists as "evildoers" implies that they live just to perpetrate evil acts. Therefore, since America is good, they attack America simply for that reason. When you think like that you never stop to realize that these are real people with real concerns.

    Terrorism is wrong, it's self defeating and it's not at all a good way to solve the injustices in the world. However, simply declaring war on terror does nothing to solve the underlying problems. On 9/11 2001 ~3000 Americans died. On any given day ~30,000 children starve to death. If 1% of the attention given to the Americans who died on 9/11 was given to improving infrastructure worldwide we'd be living in a much better world.
  • by sbelaire ( 192995 ) on Saturday March 13, 2004 @04:19PM (#8553417) Homepage
    > They are getting off lightly compared to the pain and injustice they inflicted.

    "They" (the illegally detained people in Guatamalla) are not the people who flew a plane into a couple of your corporate buildings. Those people are dead. These detainees have not even been given a trial so no one who claims to believe in the USA's ideals of 'justice' can say that these people are guilty.

    > If they want those concerns addressed they should talk to us about them.

    This is either an extremely sarcastic joke, or you are not familiar with your country's track-record when it gomes to dealing with foreign countries. "Talking" to the USA is possibly the worst thing that a nation can do to try to get them to stop doing something... it shows that you're not in complete obedience.

    I can't give you the specific details on this example but I do remember hearing on the news a couple days after the attack on the WTC that a Saudi prince offered New York a million dollars if it would meet and talk rationally about reforming its policies in the middle east. Mayor Julliani refused.

    another excellent example is what your country did to Nicaragua. The US was attacking this country and funding militant groups in the country in their efforts. Nicaragua was actually pretty clever here - they did not ask the United States to "please stop terrorizing and killing us" because they saw what happens to other nations when they do this. They brought their case to the United Nations.

    The World Court declared that the United States was guilty of War Crimes in this case and ordered them to pay reperations. The US ignored the ruling and stepped up the bombing, eventually killing tens to hundreds of thousands of people.

    Outside of the United States, your country is well known to be the leading source of terrorist attacks and a huge supporter of terrorists. I implore you to research this yourself and not disregard it with an idiotic statement like "we're jealous of your freedom".

    Look up talks or texts by Noam Chomsky (, as an example - he is a great researcher and reporter on the US's foreign and domestic policies. A lot of "right-wing" people claim that he just outright lies about most of his facts, but that's just a cowardly way to disregard the truth. If he was a perpetual liar in his thousands of speeches and over 50 books he would not have been kept on as a professor at MIT for the past 30-40 years.

    > We'll be living in a much better world when OBL and Mullah Omar are seen hanging from lightposts in downtown Kabul.

    This type of logic does not always work. History has shown us that when a man has nothing left, brutally displaying the corpse of someone who was caught will not deter them from trying the same.

    Don't misinterpret me as a "Saddam sympithiser" or someone who in any ways is justifying the death of 3,000+ civilians during the '9/11' attacks. I believe that the perpretrators should be hunted down (rationally), put on trial, and, if found guilty, punished to the full extend that you desire.

    Rest assured though that no matter how much money you pump into wars on concepts or innatimate ideas, and no matter how many rights your country takes away from it's own citizens, you will continue to face these types of attacks and related problems as long as you stubbornly refuse to analyze or deal with the "motive" of these attacks.

UNIX is many things to many people, but it's never been everything to anybody.