The U.S. government is putting together proposed new Internet regulations that could have more widespread implications for your privacy than anything Mark Zuckerberg ever did to your Facebook news feed.
The new bill, slated to be brought before Congress next year, aims to make all online communication services able to be wiretapped. Messages would need to be capable of being both intercepted and unencrypted. This would involve redesigning a lot of services from the ground up, some of which have peer-to-peer messaging that even service providers cannot unscramble. Foreign-based providers could also be required to establish a domestic office to perform these interceptions.
National law enforcement insists that the proposal is reasonable and that without it, their ability to monitor criminal suspects is “going dark.” While the 1994 Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act makes communication service providers subject to wiretap orders, interception capability is not currently required. Some providers wait until the order is served to try to develop the means to intercept communications.
How wise a move the proposal may be is up for debate. Today’s New York Times offers a good look at the controversy, with quotes from opinionholders on both sides, weighing considerations of security and privacy.