Should Internet Wiretapping Be Required?

Lora Bentley

The Obama Administration started talking about wiretapping the Internet last September. The growing availability and popularity of Internet-based communications platforms, whether they're social networks like Facebook or Twitter or voice and video services like Google Voice and Skype, means the typical means of surveillance available to law enforcement are gradually "going dark."


Though such platforms are subject to appropriate court orders just like the telephone companies and wireless providers, they often can't comply because they don't have the technical means to do so, according to The New York Times.


To combat this problem, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is lobbying Congress to consider legislation that would require the Web-based services to build in a means of access for surveillance purposes. FBI general counsel Valerie Caproni was among those who testified before the House Judiciary Committee this week to "fully air the going dark problem," the NYT reports.


Though Caproni did not go so far as to recommend a specific legislative approach, several lawmakers on the panel indicated they were skeptical of requiring a "back door" for wiretapping by law. Sen. John Conyers (D-Mich.) said the idea "runs counter to how the Internet works and may make it impossible for some companies to offer their services."

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