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Police Want Backdoor Access to Private Data

CNET claims to have acquired a survey scheduled to be released at a federal task force meeting on Thursday. The findings indicate that police officials want a backdoor to web users' private data by way of an exclusive, police-only interface. Police officials also want to eliminate the traditional ways of sending paperwork (fax, snail-mail) by making requests electronically in order to speed up the process.

The results also reveal that 89-percent of the police officials surveyed want a police-only nationwide computer network in order to exchange encrypted "legal process requests and responses to legal process." There was also a request for laws that require Internet companies to store user data for up to five years. The survey said police want said companies to respond to queries within hours, not days.

But as CNET points out, the virtual backdoor to your info sounds somewhat scary, even dangerous according to Lee Tien, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. "Let's assume you set this sort of thing up. What does that mean in terms of what the law enforcement officer be able to do? Would they be able to fish through transactional information for anyone? I don't understand how you create a system like this without it."

A recent 289-page report (PDF) filed by the Inspector General of the Justice Department provided details on how the FBI obtained telephone records of American civilians by citing nonexistent emergencies. Rather than follow proper procedures as required by law, the FBI requested the data by using sticky notes. Similar abuse of privacy laws could be made if companies do install police-only Web interfaces as requested.