US working to ease wiretaps on the Internet

Washington, Sept.27 (ANI): American law enforcement and national security officials are preparing to seek sweeping new regulations for the Internet, arguing that their ability to wiretap criminal and terrorism suspects is "going dark" as people increasingly communicate online instead of by telephone.

According to the New York Times, the officials want Congress to require all services that enable communications - including encrypted e-mail transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites like Facebook and software that allows direct "peer to peer" messaging like Skype - to be technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order.

The mandate would include being able to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages.

The bill, which the Obama administration plans to submit to lawmakers next year, raises fresh questions about how to balance security needs with protecting privacy and fostering innovation.

The paper quoted James X. Dempsey, vice president of the Center for Democracy and Technology, an Internet policy group, as saying the proposal had "huge implications" and challenged "fundamental elements of the Internet revolution" - including its decentralized design.

Law enforcement officials contend that imposing such a mandate is reasonable and necessary to prevent the erosion of their investigative powers.

There is not yet agreement on important elements, like how to word statutory language defining who counts as a communications service provider, according to several officials familiar with the deliberations. (ANI)

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