Wiretap dancing

The Justice Department, DEA and FBI filed a petition with the FCC for an expedited rulemaking process to grant law enforcement expanded authority to wiretap packet-based communications– particularly those that go over the internet.
LawMeme provides a concise analysis: FBI seek to expand the system-formerly-known-as-Carnivore

Under the FBI’s proposal, all broadband Internet providers, including cable modem and DSL companies, would be required to rewire their networks to facilitate police wiretapping. Companies would bear “sole financial responsibility for development and implementation of CALEA solutions” but would be authorized to raise prices to cover their costs.

Washington Post: Easier Internet Wiretaps Sought

Justice Department lawyers argue in a 75-page FCC petition that Internet broadband and online telephone providers should be treated the same as traditional telephone companies, which are required by law to provide access for wiretaps and other monitoring of voice communications. The law enforcement agencies complain that many providers do not comply with existing wiretap rules and that rapidly changing technology is limiting the government’s ability to track terrorists and other threats.

News.com: FBI adds to wiretap wish list

Legal experts said the 85-page filing includes language that could be interpreted as forcing companies to build back doors into everything from instant messaging and voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) programs to Microsoft’s Xbox Live game service. The introduction of new services that did not support a back door for police would be outlawed, and companies would be given 15 months to make sure that existing services comply.

Ernest Miller: A Race the FBI Can’t Win: The Increasingly Asymmetric Costs of Wiretap Surveillance vs. Wiretap Avoidance

If I were the FBI, I wouldn’t waste my time on a battle I ultimately couldn’t win and instead would concentrate my efforts on the place where I could still achieve my goals – the ends. You want to know what someone is up to online? I would recommend, for example, key loggers, “real” spyware, and social engineering. It ain’t gonna be easy, but you have a chance of winning in the long term. The sooner you quit a race you can’t win, the faster you can enter a race where you have a chance.