According to recent news reports, the FBI is meeting with Internet companies – such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo and the like – to push its plan to force backdoor surveillance on social networks, VoIP, e-mail servers and so forth.
The news reports are soft-peddling the FBI’s requests with terms like “quietly pushing” and “asking” Internet companies not to oppose a law making backdoor surveillance mandatory.
This is much like a 500-pound gorilla “asking” for a banana. Of course you’re going to give him the banana – and, by extension, grant mandatory surveillance – you’d be naïve not to, especially with the judicial clout the FBI and Justice Department hold over these Internet companies.
What does it all mean?
Quite frankly, if the FBI wants to see your e-mails, they would be able to easily access all of them. If the FBI wants to track what sites you’ve been visiting…not a problem.
For its part, the FBI just considers this an expansion of their existing powers. They’re proposing an amendment to the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) which would require communication platforms (like the companies cited above) to build FBI-accessible backdoors into their services. This, the FBI innocently considers, is just a way to use its existing powers more effectively in our ever-expanding digital age.
Supposedly a court order would still be necessary for any surveillance; but we’ve seen and read enough about the judicial system to know that such a court order is quite easily obtainable. Child’s play, so to speak.
And, with companies forced to create mandatory “backdoors” into their data, everything about you is suddenly wide-open for inspection.
We all respect the FBI’s legal ability to search for criminals. But does access to data from a handful of criminals off-set the potential access to data on millions of citizens? Hardly!
But this can’t happen here!
It wasn’t so long ago that President Richard Nixon abused his political powers by requesting (through the FBI) wiretaps, secret files and so forth. Back then, with no Internet access, these files and reports were nonetheless damaging. Imagine what one political figure or agency could accomplish with built-in backdoor surveillance.
Big Brother isn’t just here. He’s knocking – very loudly – at your backdoor!