By Ron VandenBoom
Do you want the FBI to wiretap your online communications?
Well probably not.
Even if you are not a criminal trying to use the Internet for illegal purposes, it still somehow offends the senses to think the next generation of Internet protocols might have wiretap capabilities wired into them.
The FBI,, naturally, has already rendered an opinion that it favors such a proposal.
"We think it's a wise and prudent move," said Barry Smith, supervisory special agent in the FBI's Digital Telephony and Encryption policy unit. "If court-authorized wiretaps are frustrated, effective law enforcement is jeopardized, public safety is jeopardized, and policy makers are going to have to figure out how to rectify the problem."
An international organization known as the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) was founded in 1986 to set standards for Internet technology and is currently discussing the prospect of endorsing such protocol.
IETF executive committee member, Jeff Schiller, said in an Oct. 13, interview with Wired News reporter, Declan McCullagh, that he disagrees with such a policy.
"We should not be building surveillance technology into standards," he said. "Law enforcement was not supposed to be easy. Where it is easy, it's called a police state."
While the article notes that it's a well know fact that police already have the technology configured into phone company networks, the question still remains as to whether computers should also be subject to "the bug."
Smith, in a veiled threat leveled at the IETF, argues that if the IETF doesn't comply with their wishes voluntarily, laws will have to be passed mandating such changes. He adds that the laws could, in fact, be worse than IETF changing the rules voluntarily.
"If this standard-setting body chooses to turn a blind eye to reality, they can make a statement," he said. "But companies are going to have to function in the real world and meet their governmental obligations."
It appears obvious that one way or another the government had set its sights on finding ways to control the Internet.
If these were just the ravings of one lone officer in a bureaucratic maze of officers, I would not feel so nervous, but the onslaught seems to never end.
It is by design that the founding fathers gave us a legislative branch of government that moves slowly. It must be remembered that the founding fathers feared government.
Today, far from being feared, government is thought of as a public protector and business, including the Internet business, is perceived as the threat to individual rights and freedoms.
Well let me assure you that no freedoms are jeopardized by the Internet. While criminals can and will use this and other technologies to pursue ill-gotten-gain, it is the criminals that need regulated not the Internet.
Perhaps the Internet is the one technology that develops faster than the government can act to regulate it. Since we know the government will not stop in its pursuit of the new medium, perhaps we should make a race out of it and see how long it takes the technology to bypass the regulations.
There's little doubt in my mind who will win. You find a way to regulate and technology will find a way to undo it