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FBI drafting proposal for more 'wiretap-friendly' web services, according to CNET

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The FBI is allegedly considering legislation that would require web communication services to comply with the same requirements as telecommunications carriers, allowing law enforcement to "wiretap" electronic communications.

Skype for Windows Phone stock
Skype for Windows Phone stock

In many ways, growing technological capabilities have increased opportunities for surveillance, but the US Federal Bureau of Investigation may be drafting legislation to address the opposite issue: law enforcement being unable to intercept electronic communications as they become more secure. CNET has apparently spoken to someone who reviewed the bill, which would allegedly amend the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) to apply to social networking sites, VoIP providers, email, and chat services above a certain number of users.

The base text of CALEA requires that telecommunications carriers be capable of "expeditiously isolating and enabling the government, pursuant to a court order or other lawful authorization, to intercept, to the exclusion of any other communications, all wire and electronic communications." However, last February, the FBI testified that surveillance efforts were "going dark" because companies were increasingly unable or unwilling to provide electronic wiretaps.

At that time, it said it was unsure whether legislation would be necessary, but CNET reports that the FBI Director is asking companies how "to minimize impacts" from the amendment, and Microsoft says that the topic is "an area of ongoing interest to us." This proposal could obviously come to nothing, but we wouldn't be entirely surprised to see it put forward. If it is, it's unlikely to be popular among web businesses, or among community-based open source projects that may find it difficult to implement such a system for law enforcement.