Obama Likely to Back FBI Plan to Make Internet Wiretapping Easier


The Obama administration is on the verge of backing an FBI plan for a sweeping overhaul of surveillance laws that would make it easier to wiretap people who communicate using the Internet rather than by traditional phone services, reports the New York Times. FBI director Robert Mueller has argued that the bureau's ability to carry out court-approved eavesdropping on suspects is “going dark” as communications technology evolves. He has pushed for a legal mandate requiring companies like Facebook and Google to build into their instant-messaging and other such systems a capacity to comply with wiretap orders. That proposal bogged down amid concerns by other agencies about quashing Silicon Valley innovation. The new proposal focuses on fining companies that do not comply with wiretap orders. The difference means that start-ups with a small number of users would have fewer worries about wiretapping issues unless the companies became popular enough to come to the Justice Department's attention. “I think the FBI's proposal would render Internet communications less secure and more vulnerable to hackers and identity thieves,” said Gregory Nojeim of the Center for Democracy and Technology.

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