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FBI Wants Backdoors to Facebook, Twitter Immediately

By - Source: CNET | B 73 comments

The FBI is getting impatient and wants a backdoor to Facebook, Skype, Google Hangouts and other services now to catch evildoers.

It's no big secret that the FBI wants a backdoor to every American website planted on the Internet. However the government agency now wants the secret entrance unlocked as soon as possible -- like right this minute -- because the drastic shift from using telephones to using the Internet has made it nearly impossible for agents to wiretap Americans suspected of foul play. The bureau calls it a "Going Dark" problem, as its surveillance capabilities may diminish as technology advances if things don't change.

According to CNET, the FBI general council's office has drafted a proposed law that requires social networking websites and providers of email, instant messaging and VoIP to alter their services with additional code to make them "wiretap friendly." However the requirement to add the FBI's code will only apply if a threshold of a certain number of users is exceeded.

If passed, the proposal would amend the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA, which was established back in 1994. It currently applies only to telecommunications providers, not Web companies. The Federal Communications Commission extended CALEA in 2004 to apply to broadband networks.

Disclosure documents filed with Congress two weeks ago revealed that Apple, which provides iChat and FaceTime for iOS devices, is currently lobbying on the backdoor topic. Microsoft, which owns both Skype and Hotmail, told CNET that its lobbyists are following the topic because it's "an area of ongoing interest to us." Google, Yahoo, and Facebook would not comment on the topic.

Going Dark has reportedly been an issue in Washington since 2006, and the bureau eventually hired on 107 full-time workers in 2009 to work on the issue. The FBI has supposedly even sought input from the its secretive Operational Technology Division in Quantico, Va., a division that claims to be working on the "latest and greatest investigative technologies to catch terrorists and criminals."

For now the legislation has been approved by the Department of Justice, but the White House could ruin the FBI's backdoor plans. That's because the bureau's amendments to CALEA so far have not been sent to Capital Hill by the Obama Administration. Without an approval by the White House -- which was expected to arrive last year -- the bill will likely not be passed into law.

In addition to the FBI's move, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering reinterpreting CALEA so that products ranging from Skype to Google Hangouts will include backdoors to help solve the "Going Dark" problem. Christopher Canter, lead compliance counsel at the Marashlian and Donahue law firm (which specializes in CALEA), said that they have noticed a "massive uptick" in the amount of FCC CALEA inquiries and enforcement proceedings within the last year, most of which are intended to address 'Going Dark' issues.

"This generally means that the FCC is laying the groundwork for regulatory action," he said.

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Top Comments
  • 46 Hide
    oneblackened , May 4, 2012 9:09 PM
    What the actual fuck, FBI. Seriously. What the actual fuck. Ever heard of the fourth and 9th amendments?
  • 45 Hide
    Kamab , May 4, 2012 9:11 PM
    Chance for these back doors not to be abused: 0%
  • 42 Hide
    frozonic , May 4, 2012 9:24 PM
    *in fbi headquater* Agent: Sir, we found the mass murderer we were looking for years! Captain: Forget that, i found someone downloading iligal music! Both: lets get him!
Other Comments
    Display all 73 comments.
  • 46 Hide
    oneblackened , May 4, 2012 9:09 PM
    What the actual fuck, FBI. Seriously. What the actual fuck. Ever heard of the fourth and 9th amendments?
  • 28 Hide
    house70 , May 4, 2012 9:09 PM
    Next time you hear 'click' on your email, you'll know who's listening...

    Oh, wait....
  • 45 Hide
    Kamab , May 4, 2012 9:11 PM
    Chance for these back doors not to be abused: 0%
  • 42 Hide
    frozonic , May 4, 2012 9:24 PM
    *in fbi headquater* Agent: Sir, we found the mass murderer we were looking for years! Captain: Forget that, i found someone downloading iligal music! Both: lets get him!
  • 25 Hide
    g-unit1111 , May 4, 2012 9:26 PM
    We're already being wire-tapped by our employers on Facebook - do we really need to be wire tapped by the FBI as well?
  • 33 Hide
    dimar , May 4, 2012 9:27 PM
    Can people hack a backdoor (webcam and mic) to every politician so we can monitor their life for possible corruption?
  • 37 Hide
    chumly , May 4, 2012 9:36 PM
    Espionage is defined as the act of spying. The government is The People, then committing acts of espionage against The People is committing acts of espionage against the government. If you are a member of this government, then you are committing acts of espionage against your own. There's a word for this: Treason. These people are betraying your government and the ideals of liberty. They are the criminals, not the people.
  • 22 Hide
    koga73 , May 4, 2012 9:40 PM
    fucked up but expected.
    luckily this doesn't affect me because i dont use facebook, twitter, or any social network. i have my own server in my house that I use for email and i use a vpn in combination with peerblock.
  • 21 Hide
    DroKing , May 4, 2012 9:44 PM
    Really? I bet they gonna use it to go after potheads OMG like me instead of real criminals (like rapists/murderers).


    FUDGE OFF FBI. We already got screwed with Patriots ACT! We dont need any more of your corruption MMM kay!?!?!?
  • 20 Hide
    ankaj , May 4, 2012 9:49 PM
    "Disclosure documents filed with Congress two weeks ago revealed that Apple, which provides iChat and FaceTime for iOS devices, is currently lobbying on the backdoor topic."

    Lobbying for or against?
  • 22 Hide
    bells101 , May 4, 2012 10:07 PM
    You guys realize the NSA already has those backdoors in place?... The FBI just wants access to them.
  • 6 Hide
    bison88 , May 4, 2012 10:16 PM
    It's Carnivore all over again, except this time they don't want to take on the responsibility of what turned out to be a failed program and instead are insisting on the outside party to take action. Not only smells like a violation of the Constitution (as if any of these ABC agencies actually care about it), but it also sounds to me like FBI wants to avoid finger pointing when things go sour and don't want stuck with the hot potato.
  • 26 Hide
    sublime2k , May 4, 2012 10:16 PM
    Solution? Don't use Facebook or Twitter. Works for me.
  • 18 Hide
    Anonymous , May 4, 2012 10:26 PM
    Well, I thought using FB and Twitter to give away your own info is stupid enough.
  • 23 Hide
    bejabbers , May 4, 2012 10:37 PM
    there's a major problem here... what about all the people who use these sites who are not american? Why should another country's citizens have their privacy violated as well. The world is going to hell in a hand-basket, and it's both sides that are taking us there.
  • 23 Hide
    slabbo , May 4, 2012 10:38 PM
    all those companies need to tell the FBI to look up the constitution and then give them the middle finger!!! Seriously this is getting ridiculous. If you want this shift to end, I hope all of you will vote for Ron Paul. He's only one speaking up against this and fights for our liberty/freedoms.
  • 20 Hide
    sanirudh , May 4, 2012 10:47 PM
    I walked out of Facebook through the front door.
  • 21 Hide
    Travis Beane , May 4, 2012 11:00 PM
    chumlyEspionage is defined as the act of spying. The government is The People, then committing acts of espionage against The People is committing acts of espionage against the government. If you are a member of this government, then you are committing acts of espionage against your own. There's a word for this: Treason. These people are betraying your government and the ideals of liberty. They are the criminals, not the people.

    That... that was beautiful. *Sniffle*
  • 14 Hide
    Anonymous , May 4, 2012 11:01 PM
    Since the law only applies to large companies, don't you think that drug dealers, terrorists, etc. will just opt for small companies....or companies located outside US jurisdiction (news flash: the web is global).
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