#Compliance: Proposal to update wiretapping laws draws controversy

Twitter was abuzz after a report of possible updates to wiretapping laws. Opponents argue it would dramatically alter civil rights and online privacy.

Social media is a great tool for reaching out to and connecting with like-minded professionals in the compliance space. However, with the speed of business and a healthy dose of incoming work, it's tough to babysit a Facebook profile or a Google Plus stream, and you always feel like you miss the best tweets. We get that. That's why we're mining our list of GRC literati for their nuggets of insight, wisdom and the occasional chuckle...

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Online consumer privacy advocates, still reeling from news surrounding the controversial Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) bill a few weeks ago, were irked again when news broke that President Barack Obama is possibly backing an overhaul of wiretapping laws to ease monitoring of individuals' Internet use. The proposed laws would reportedly fine Internet companies that fail to comply with court-ordered wiretaps.

As technology has advanced in recent years, the FBI has pushed for wiretapping laws amendments, requiring companies to build surveillance capacities into their systems. Silicon Valley and business advocates have expressed concern that such requirements would stifle innovation. The new proposal, however, would instead focus on strengthening judge-issued wiretap orders, according to The New York Times.

Immediately following the Times report, social media was abuzz with strong opinions on the wiretapping laws proposal. Some saw the proposal as a direct violation of their constitutional rights …

… while others saw it as a direct assault on individual online privacy.

Some took a more moderate approach and stated they understood the need for increased surveillance capabilities. They remained hesitant, however, about the long-term business ramifications of the proposal. Market researcher Robert Moran expressed concern about how the wiretapping laws will influence operations at U.S.-based technology firms going forward.

The wiretapping law changes could even have unintended cybersecurity ramifications, according to an article published by the Huffington Post. In the article, security experts argued against mandates for building surveillance systems into new technology, saying it could actually make the technology more vulnerable to cyberattacks:

The Obama Administration hasn't signed off on the proposal or commented on it since the news broke. If submitted to Congress, it will likely face opposition from consumer and industry groups -- much like the FBI's proposals in recent years to extend wiretapping laws to the Internet.

What do you think? How do you feel about the wiretapping law proposal? Are the changes necessary in the face of modern terrorism, or do they violate privacy and free speech too harshly? Voice your concerns in the comments. We'd love to hear from you.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Ben Cole, associate editor. For more regulatory compliance news and updates throughout the week, follow us on Twitter @ITCompliance.

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