Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Intercepts for Facebook etc?

Computerworld seems to have woken up to this issue which has been around the privacy community for sometime.

The Obama Administration is reportedly considering a statute that would make it easier for federal authorities to intercept communications over services such as Facebook, Skype and BlackBerry -- an idea that's stoking anxiety within the privacy community.

The debate includes worthy noises about the need to eavesdrop on terrorists but does not address the trust that gets placed in the government agency.

For those of us outside the US whose communications are incidentally caught up in US service providers like Google, or Skype there are another set of considerations.
  • Does every tin-pot government agency in the world get its own feed from the communications honeypot?
  • Are we going towards a 2-level communications regime (inside and outside US regulation)?
  • While end-end encryption inherent in RIM's BlackBerry defeats the eavesdropper, it is easily identifable that encryption is taking place and could lead to the assumption that the parties involved are 'evil' rather than simply private.

Those interested in privacy rights would do well to advocate end-end encryption of every communication to make wholesale eavesdropping ineffective until encryption scheme breaking moves forward a few more generations.

UPDATE: An expert view here from Bruce Schneier.

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