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FBI Wants Authority To Filter Net Backbone 413

Dionysius, God of Wine and Leaf, writes "There are places where criminal activity is centralized: the backbone hubs located in hosting facilities across the country. All of the Internet's activity, legal and illegal, flows through these 'choke points,' and the feds, of course, are already tapping those points and siphoning off data. What Mueller wants is the legal authority to comb through the backbone data, which is already being siphoned off by the NSA, in order to look for illegal activity."
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FBI Wants Authority To Filter Net Backbone

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  • Next on his list (Score:5, Informative)

    by davidwr ( 791652 ) on Friday April 25, 2008 @01:13PM (#23199758) Homepage Journal
    The legal authority to block anything he can't read.

    I would say "Welcome to Soviet America" but the feds have had the "we can do what we want in the name of protecting the country damn the Constitution" attitude off and on since the 1700s.
    • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Friday April 25, 2008 @01:23PM (#23199892) Homepage

      The legal authority to block anything he can't read.

      What, like French? Or just something tedious like Stephen King? ;-)

    • by khasim ( 1285 ) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Friday April 25, 2008 @01:35PM (#23200056)
      Old system - the duly appointed authorities had to SUSPECT you of a crime ... and get sufficient evidence to convince a disinterested 3rd party (a judge) that there was a need for a warrant.

      New system - skim through the LEGITIMATE transactions of EVERYONE hoping to find something criminal or actionable or ... just something you want to read about someone. Stalking ex's. Harassing people who do not respect you enough. Getting some info on that cutie you saw at the grocery store.

      Fuck that.
  • by hackstraw ( 262471 ) on Friday April 25, 2008 @01:14PM (#23199770)

    will they pry my private encryption key passphrase.

    • So far, you have that right.

      See United States v. Boucher, 2007 WL 4246473 (November 29, 2007)

      If ^h^h^h When they change the law, you could spend a few months in a luxurious 5' x 5' wire cage if you don't turn over your passwods.

    • Oh, I'm sure a little waterboarding will jog that memory and loosen that tongue of yours. Not that I would advocate torture.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by BigJClark ( 1226554 )

      EXACTLY. Let them read my nonsensical jibba-jabba.. there are damn near unbeatable encryption algorithms that exist today.

      My attitude is, if you're not smart enough to encrypt your sensitive data, then you've got it coming. It seems that the US bounces back and forth between a nanny-state and the big-brother state. People, you have to take care of your own, you simply can't trust ISP's, routers, google, the girl that swipes your visa at the corner station, etc etc etc.

      Heads up people, its comin' a
    • by sm62704 ( 957197 ) on Friday April 25, 2008 @02:48PM (#23201182) Journal
      No need to kill you, after a little waterboarding or strapping you to a gurney with your head bolted down [slashdot.org], or holding a metal probe supercooled with liquid nitrogen to your eyeball (I've experienced both of these as described in the linked journal) you'll tell them any damned thing they want to know.

      And I'm sure there are worse things they can do to you. A lot worse than killing you; you're going to die some day anyway, but they won't get or need your encryption key after you're dead.

      You talk like a brave man. But my money says they wouldn't even need a waterboard to get you to cough up anything they wanted.
  • "Criminals live amongst us. We need to bug everyone's homes so we can root them out."
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jo42 ( 227475 )
      "And be able to change the definition of 'Criminal' any time we feel like it."
  • by CRCulver ( 715279 ) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Friday April 25, 2008 @01:15PM (#23199794) Homepage
    Back around the turn of the millennium, the U.S.'s monitoring of Internet traffic was a big topic of discussion on the Internet, spurred on by James Bamford's Body of Secrets [amazon.com] and the European Union's report on ECHELON facilities. Except for some of us Slashbots, the public seems to have lost interest in this troubling phenomenon.
  • What If... (Score:5, Funny)

    by FurtiveGlancer ( 1274746 ) <AdHocTechGuy&aol,com> on Friday April 25, 2008 @01:17PM (#23199818) Journal
    What if their combing leads me to a brush with the law? It could get hairy....
    • wow, that comment was so corny you should be pun ished for it
    • by Pahroza ( 24427 )
      That was atrocious, really. You can do better than that.
      • The point of poor punnery is more to cause excruciating pain in the pun-ee rather than have others consider the pun-er funny.

        These are the lines to break out at 6:30am on a bad day when your co-workers haven't finished their first coffee. The sudden pause in their trains of thought with the impending groan that follows is where the humour truly lies.

        Of course, the only defense is to be a soldier in uniform as I'm pretty sure such tactics are against the Geneva convention.
  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Friday April 25, 2008 @01:18PM (#23199838)
    Who sees that this could become a huge regulatory nightmare in the coming years for software developers [codemonkeyramblings.com]? This will only be effective so long as either the public continues using mainstream protocols for most activities, and the protocols that the FBI wants to monitor don't get changed or replaced on a regular basis by those who don't want to be monitored. The eventual outcome, IMO, besides the obvious privacy, constitutional and financial issues involved in this would be a bridge between this mandate, the data retention mandate and CALEA causing all providers of IT products to comply to make their products easy for law enforcement to monitory, going so far as to outlaw the deployment of software that is capable of evading surveillance.
  • FY. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Pahroza ( 24427 ) on Friday April 25, 2008 @01:19PM (#23199842)
    I for one DO NOT welcome our evil packet sniffing overlords.
  • by FranTaylor ( 164577 ) on Friday April 25, 2008 @01:19PM (#23199850)
    Small steps, seemingly innocuous in and of themselves, but taken together, result in a total subversion of the intent of the founders.
    • This isn't a small step at all. The small steps have already been taken. This is (if I may switch analogies) that last "lick" of the tootsie roll pop. ("Crunch")

    • by oodaloop ( 1229816 ) on Friday April 25, 2008 @01:49PM (#23200258)
      Couldn't agree more. Unfortunately, that is the minority opinion in my workplace, the intelligence community. Most of my coworkers seriously believe that wiretapping and this kind of internet monitoring are fine, since they're not doing anything wrong. And as a rule, they really aren't. To work in the intelligence community, and I'm sure to a similar degree in the law enforcement community, you need a clean background to get a clearance. Most of us, myself included, have absolutely no criminal background, no history of drug use, no financial problems, no foreign contacts, etc. For these types of people, intrusion on their lily-white lifestyles doesn't seem that big a deal, and I felt the same way for a while.

      But it's the slippery slope that bothers me. When we put up no fight for these small losses of privacy, what will we do when the larger ones come along? How de we roll back the intrusions once they're made?
  • Remind me again... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by InvisblePinkUnicorn ( 1126837 ) on Friday April 25, 2008 @01:21PM (#23199864)
    Remind me again how any of this falls under the umbrella of rights protection with which the government was originally charged.
    • I am still trying to find out where the probable cause for a search is. This is no different than asking for permission to wiretap anyone and everyone without a warrant. Oh wait, nevermind, they are doing that too. I guess at least you can't say they are hypocrits; their actions have been fairly consistent and very unconstitutional.
  • by EllynGeek ( 824747 ) on Friday April 25, 2008 @01:22PM (#23199884)
    Why is it so easy to trash the Constitution and Bill of Rights, and so hard to put them back? What a bunch of assholes. They must have had the words "probable cause" surgically removed from their brains.
  • Too Late (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bhima ( 46039 ) * <Bhima.Pandava@gmail. c o m> on Friday April 25, 2008 @01:23PM (#23199906) Journal
    You have to know if the Feds are asking, it's because they are ready are doing.

    Which also means they never stopped the Total Information Awareness (TIA) Program or Echelon, the NSA worldwide digital interception program or Carnivore, the FBI US digital interception program.

    Man, I bet they've got petabytes of freaky porn by now.
  • by sm62704 ( 957197 ) on Friday April 25, 2008 @01:26PM (#23199954) Journal
    Yeah, and I want to get laid and every five year old wants a pony. Unluckily for me and the five year old, however, the FBI is the only one likely to get their wish.

    There are places where criminal activity is centralized: the backbone hubs located in hosting facilities across the country.

    Yes, they'll solve all those murders, rapes, assaults, robberies, and other violence by monitoring the backbone.

    While you're at it, why not tap all our phones and open all our postal mail as well? Hell, walk on into everyone's house looking for evidence of criminal activity! Why not?
  • This is just another reason to use secure protocols and encryption for messages, perhaps Tor, too.
  • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Friday April 25, 2008 @01:30PM (#23199988)
    What Mueller wants is the legal authority to comb through the backbone data...

    e'll-Way ust-jay se-uay ode-cay.

  • Your post advocates a

    (X) technical (X) legislative ( ) market-based (X) vigilante

    approach to fighting spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

    ( ) Spammers can easily use it to harvest email addresses
    (X) Mailing lists and other legitimate email uses would be affected
    (X) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the money
    ( ) It is defenseless against brute force attacks
    ( ) It will stop spam for two weeks and then we'll be stuck with it
    ( ) Users of email will not put up with it
    (X) Microsoft will not put up with it
    ( ) The police will not put up with it
    ( ) Requires too much cooperation from spammers
    (X) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
    ( ) Many email users cannot afford to lose business or alienate potential employers
    ( ) Spammers don't care about invalid addresses in their lists
    (X) Anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else's career or business

    Specifically, your plan fails to account for

    (X) Laws expressly prohibiting it
    (X) Lack of centrally controlling authority for email
    (X) Open relays in foreign countries
    ( ) Ease of searching tiny alphanumeric address space of all email addresses
    (X) Asshats
    (X) Jurisdictional problems
    ( ) Unpopularity of weird new taxes
    ( ) Public reluctance to accept weird new forms of money
    ( ) Huge existing software investment in SMTP
    ( ) Susceptibility of protocols other than SMTP to attack
    ( ) Willingness of users to install OS patches received by email
    (X) Armies of worm riddled broadband-connected Windows boxes
    (X) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
    ( ) Extreme profitability of spam
    (X) Joe jobs and/or identity theft
    (X) Technically illiterate politicians
    ( ) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with spammers
    (X) Dishonesty on the part of spammers themselves
    (X) Bandwidth costs that are unaffected by client filtering
    ( ) Outlook

    and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

    ( ) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever
    been shown practical
    ( ) Any scheme based on opt-out is unacceptable
    (X) SMTP headers should not be the subject of legislation
    ( ) Blacklists suck
    ( ) Whitelists suck
    (X) We should be able to talk about Viagra without being censored
    (X) Countermeasures should not involve wire fraud or credit card fraud
    (X) Countermeasures should not involve sabotage of public networks
    (X) Countermeasures must work if phased in gradually
    (X) Sending email should be free
    (X) Why should we have to trust you and your servers?
    ( ) Incompatiblity with open source or open source licenses
    ( ) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
    ( ) Temporary/one-time email addresses are cumbersome
    (X) I don't want the government reading my email
    ( ) Killing them that way is not slow and painful enough

    Furthermore, this is what I think about you:

    ( ) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.
    (X) This is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid person for suggesting it.
    ( ) Nice try, assh0le! I'm going to find out where you live and burn your
    house down!
  • As if NSA spying wasnt bad enough now they want the ISP's to do the dirty work and hand them the result in a silver platter. With intelligence agencies doing the work you could atleast hope on their incompetence to keep you safe but now even that is gone.

    Next up: Hiring monkeys at NSA. Details at 11
  • Misleading Headline (Score:3, Informative)

    by Gregb05 ( 754217 ) <bakergo@noSPAM.gmail.com> on Friday April 25, 2008 @01:39PM (#23200108) Journal
    Please tag 'badheadline', 'misleadingheadline' or 'kdawsonfud'.

    This is not filtering, this is mining. Both are considered bad, but there is a difference.
  • by QCompson ( 675963 ) on Friday April 25, 2008 @01:41PM (#23200126)
    The problem I see with all these discussions of privacy vs. evil child porn is that there is no way to independently verify how big of a problem child porn on the internet really is.

    The FBI would have you believe that it is a huge problem worth drastically expanding surveillance powers over. Yet compared to the 70s, when (afaik) there was legal child pornography being produced and sold, what is the production rate for this type of material today? Are there really any child pornography sites on the internet where people can pay to download child porn? (please no links)

    I also worry that the focus of law enforcement's "war on child porn" is shifting from the visual depiction of young children actually engaged in sexual activity with adults, to (1) pictures of naked children not engaged in sexual activity, and (2) material that is made by teenagers themselves. The original intent of having an exception to the First Amendment for child pornography is being distorted. This is especially true when you consider that CGI child porn that is virtually indistinguishable from the real thing is illegal to possess (thanks to the PROTECT Act), and that people are being arrested for pasting pictures of children's heads on naked adult bodies: http://www.theledger.com/article/20080418/BREAKING/453898235 [theledger.com].
    • This is especially true when you consider that CGI child porn that is virtually indistinguishable from the real thing is illegal to possess (thanks to the PROTECT Act), and that people are being arrested for pasting pictures of children's heads on naked adult bodies:

      It's worse than that. At least one person [wikipedia.org] has been prosecuted for writing fiction with pedophilic themes. It's all just thoughtcrime, and pedophiles appear to be the backup boogeyman just in case the sheep stop being afraid on cue whenever

  • Welcome to the Police State (TM). Population: You.
  • I do not know in my right mind how, it became permissable for George Bush to undermine civil liberties in the same way that we always argued it was wrong for Democrats to do.

    Liberty and Freedom do not care about political affiliations and political parties. If a federal practice is wrong, it is wrong regardless of which party does it. If we do not want Hillary Clinton or Barrack Obama or Bill Clinton reading our e-mail, then we should not tolerate George Bush or John McCain doing it either. Doing so only undermines the very essence of the rule of law and the fabric of our democracy. It is the totalitarian regime that justifies itself through personality, not the free one.

    We conservatives have many differences with our fellow liberal americans and we always will. However, the very thing that makes us American, the idea, as Jefferson said, "We are endowed with certain inalienable rights ... To secure these liberties, governments are instituted among men", is under assault and in the name of a rival that frankly is not nearly the equal of the rivals that we have faced in the past. We overcame the British Empire to secure our independence. We fought the Barbary Pirates, our own Civil War, Imperial Germany, and Nazi Germany, and then put our cities on the nuclear firing line against the dark stain of Communism... and we NEVER once entertained turning America into a land of checkpoints and identity requests.

    What is going on now in our country is madness. America is not supposed to be a place where guys with machine guns are walking around train platforms, asking if you have a driver's license with federal approved features. America is not supposed to be the place where the government collects data on all of its citizens.

    Yeah, the muzzies blew up the world trade center, and its sad that those people died. But, the British burned our nation's capital to the ground, the Germans sunk the Lusitania, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and captured an army of 80,000 men of ours. We've been attacked before and we'll be attacked again, and what makes America special is that we keep our freedoms, rather than surrender them.

    There's a million dead soldiers rolling over in their graves because we have so easily surrendered every freedom they fought for. It's an insult to them, to our national heritage, to turn our country into some sort of crappy police state because a few muslims with box cutters give us the willies.

    Support those candidates, regardless of party, that promise to end the Dept of Homeland Security, promise to repeal the USA PATRIOT ACT, and join me in a call for a Constitutional Amendment that bars the Federal Government from intercepting any electronic communications within its borders, unless it can prove before a court that those communications are with another nation with which the USA might be in a state of war.
    • by FranTaylor ( 164577 ) on Friday April 25, 2008 @02:09PM (#23200590)
      You speak for all of us, my friend.
      • by tjstork ( 137384 )
        You speak for all of us, my friend.

        Because we let this go on amongst ourselves for way too long. We were the ones that identified, as Reagan said, "The government is the problem"... we were the ones that argued against the IRS, and a host of other government regulations on the grounds that they were an attack on state and ultimately individual sovereignty and would lead to a police state.

        But, wow, Bush gets in, we get into a war, and the next thing you know, we actually HAVE the makings of an institutional
      • by Strange Ranger ( 454494 ) on Friday April 25, 2008 @03:12PM (#23201522)
        Beginning with the sentence on the madness in our country, I completely agree. But previous to that there seems to be s blind swipe at the left...

        Most of the "new liberties" we've all gained in the last 100 years have come from the liberal side (think womens suffrage, almost the entire civil rights movement, the right to show belly buttons on TV, etc etc etc), along with most of the original liberties that have been protected (think ACLU, anti-discrimination, unions, free speech, separation of church and state, etc etc etc) The Democrats guilt comes mainly from their nanny state problem. The rights they've taken away are the right to not use a car seat or a helment, the right to keep unregistered loaded firearms under our carseats etc. Overall I think the balance has been a positive one.

        Contrarily, the biggest most important rights that Republicans / conservatives were supposed to protect were States Rights with a small Federal Government. Republicans have not only failed miserably at this, but they've done a complete about-face. If any party has been the Big Brother party over the last 70 years or so, it's been the Republicans. Can anyone reasonably deny that?

        So please don't swipe at the Democrats because you have to wear a seatbelt and can't put a Nativity Scene in front of a public firehouse. That's the pot calling the microwave-safe plate black.

        Beginning with the sentence on madness, I completely agree with him. And I'll add that we need to jettison the current party system and re-do it. We disagree so strongly on the past, but it seems (hopefully) that there's more and more bipartisan agreement on our future.
    • by daigu ( 111684 ) on Friday April 25, 2008 @02:33PM (#23200952) Journal

      Support those candidates, regardless of party, that promise to end the Dept of Homeland Security, promise to repeal the USA PATRIOT ACT, and join me in a call for a Constitutional Amendment that bars the Federal Government from intercepting any electronic communications within its borders, unless it can prove before a court that those communications are with another nation with which the USA might be in a state of war.

      Which candidates would that be? Ron Paul? Dennis Kucinich? Maybe two or three of the candidates running for Congressional seats? The problem is that none of the major party candidates are running on that platform. As you correctly suggest, the two major parties have become opposite sides of the same coin, two wings of the same party.

      No, the problem is in thinking that electoral politics is going to solve our problems. It isn't. It is fine to use it as a tool, but we also need to understand that the ballot is our weakest weapon.

    • If they think they need a baby monitor to listen in on us.
  • by Whuffo ( 1043790 ) on Friday April 25, 2008 @01:48PM (#23200232) Homepage Journal
    This plan is custom designed for keeping your citizens under control. Monitor your email, phone calls, and snail mail. All in the name of preventing terrorism, saving the children, preventing crime or whatever.

    That's what they say anyway - and it might even be what they really mean. But the uses of this technology will expand and it's just a matter of time until what the monitors are looking for are "undesirable elements" as defined by the administration in power.

    Imagine what J. Edgar Hoover would have done with this ability. How about Richard Nixon; breaking into the DNC to gather information got him in trouble - if he could have accomplished the same thing with a wiretap or two do you think he'd have hesitated?

    Our Founding Fathers put limits on what government could do, insured the privacy of private spaces and generally did a pretty good job of creating a system that would resist the abuses of a power mad wanna-be dictator. It's sad to see these protections being dismantled; history is being ignored and it's going to repeat itself like it or not.

  • by street struttin' ( 1249972 ) on Friday April 25, 2008 @01:52PM (#23200320)

    What was said in the article was:

    search capability utilizing filters

    It has nothing to do with filtering the traffic on the network, which implies blocking/removing valid packets. It only means implementing a search capability that can use keyword filters (like searching in the gnarled mess for the word "Kalashnikov").

    It is bad that they are dumping all this data for perusal later, obviously. But what they are asking for in the article is just a better way to search around in that data. It's not really anything new.

  • by Prisoner's Dilemma ( 1268306 ) on Friday April 25, 2008 @02:00PM (#23200444)
    >> "There are places where criminal activity is centralized..."

    Yes there are. The White House, NSA, Dept of Homeland Security.
  • by d4rkf1br ( 1231664 ) on Friday April 25, 2008 @03:42PM (#23201888)
    I am really starting to question this country, not just the leaders but the people too. For years I have known our leaders are corrupt, crooked and just white collar criminals. But the people I believed would never tolerate this sort of thing, they would rise up and demand change! After all this country was founded because they wanted better, they wanted more control and freedom over their lives. This has been taught to every child since the dawn of this country, its suppose to be inherit in all of us.

    Must I remind all those who don't find stuff like this to be at least a little bit disheartening the following passage from what should be a very important document to all Americans:

    "That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

    What is really ironic in these times is that to many, "general public and espicially those in power", that my belief in and my quoting that passage probably makes me out to be some bad guy.

    These days however if you were to believe in or propose such a thing that our government, the very government founded and established by this document would likely want to question you, harrass you, publicly ruin you, arrest you, deem you an enemy of the state and so on.

    Does anyone believe the people of this country could ever rise up again or truly take a stand against our government?

    I just don't think its possible anymore.

    We will slowly loose our rights as is evident by what has been happening. People will become compliacent in things. People will continue to use and believe the "if you have nothing to hide" argument which in turn just means those that don't believe that (small minority) are simply quacks or nut jobs or criminals looking for a way to maintain their evil ways.

    And of course if you even bring up the notion of forming a new government, well your just a non-american, non-patriotic, commie ass and if you don't like this country you should leave.

    I suppose the only thing left is for the oil to run out one day, financial crisis looms, those in power and those running the country loose their money / wealth, the military machine and might crumbles with no oil. The people rise, and who knows. Sounds like a mix of movie themes there, who knows it might happen. Oil is pretty much the foundation of everything currently. Its sort of like what water is to life, oil is to industry and the life we all know. It would explain the middle east and why our politico's are so concerned with it the people there right? ;-) Could they be afraid of loosing this resource, and thus what their whole fortunes and futures are based on? Could that be why the prices are going up and these companies are making crazy profits? Maybe they are stock piling money for the inevitable day when it all dries up? And of course the more you can take from everyone else, the less they have and the harder their lives are to sustain and become increasingly depend on those with to give them a helping hand and thus willing to become obidient little lambs to their overlords.

Friction is a drag.