New Report Shows Cybersecurity Risks from FBI “Going Dark” Proposal

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Today’s New York Times discusses a major new report by 20 technologists about the cybersecurity risks that would result an FBI plan to expand wiretapping capabilities on the Internet.  The administration is reportedly close to sending the FBI proposal to Capitol Hill, to amend the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act of 1994.

FPF Senior Fellow Peter Swire blogs about this issue today at the International Association of Privacy Professionals website.  His post draws on work he has done at FPF with Kenesa Ahmad.  Swire writes:

The FBI argues that new wiretapping mandates on the Internet are needed because it is “going dark,” because new and evolving Internet technologies mean that government may not have a way to get the content of communications with a wiretap order.  In a 2011 paper, Kenesa Ahmad and I argued that “going dark” is the wrong image, and that today should instead be understood as a “golden age of surveillance.”  As members of the IAPP know, law enforcement and national security agencies today have far greater data gathering capabilities than ever before, such as: (1) location information; (2) information about contacts and confederates; and (3) an array of new databases that create digital dossiers about individuals’ lives.

As the debate heats up about expanding CALEA requirements to the Internet, there are thus strong privacy and cybersecurity reasons for concern about the FBI’s proposed approach.