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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 FBI wants Internet comms firms to build #wiretap capability into their products. I understand law enforcement need, but have 2 concerns— Robert Moran (@robertpmoran) May 8, 2013
Concern 1:That the new wiretap laws will push innovation outside of the US.— Robert Moran (@robertpmoran) May 8, 2013
Concern 2:That other nations will follow suit and use a similar system to force American tech firms to eavesdrop on dissidents.— Robert Moran (@robertpmoran) May 8, 2013
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:
Wiretap law may create dangerous "backdoor" for hackers and cybercriminals huff.to/16ZQ7aG— HuffPost Tech (@HuffPostTech) May 8, 2013
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.