FBI Efforts Would Hurt Telecom

The FBI wants to update the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA, a proposal that could hurt the development of the Internet and mobile phone service. 

As MarketWatch reports, the FBI wants the Obama Administrations approval to greatly expand wiretapping ability including wireless phone calls, Internet chat and e-mail. Congress would have to sign off on the plan.

But critics contend more CALEA enforcement would cause carriers such as AT&T and Verizon, as well as Silicon Valley startups, to pull back on investment and innovation. And companies such as Research In Motion, Skype and Google, for its Chat service, would likely come under greater government scrutiny. Right now, their connections encrypt user data from end to end, as MarketWatch points out, which means law enforcement authorities cant tap conversations.

Telecom companies didnt want to comment on the story but one lawyer, Greg Nojeim of the Project on Freedom, Security and Technology, told MarketWatch the governments efforts could ruin innovation.

Were talking about telling the guy whos building the next great application in his garage or dorm room that he has to build a vulnerability, a backdoor, a way for the FBI to get in,” Nojeim said. Im not sure thats what we want to be telling that guy.”

CALEA became law in 1994.

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