FBI demands more spying authority on Americans

FBI Wants Expanded Internet Wiretapping Capabilities

Advice from the ACLU:
November 22, 2010

The FBI is lobbying tech companies including Google and Facebook to win support for an Obama administration proposal to expand its Internet wiretapping capabilities, according to a report in the New York Times. The administration is urging Congress to revise the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), claiming that law enforcement needs to keep pace with technological changes. The original law, passed in 1994, compels telecommunications and broadband companies to make their services wiretap-ready.

The report states that the administration is hoping to submit proposed legislation to Congress early next year to overhaul CALEA in order to ensure that telecommunications companies' networks can be wiretapped as soon as they receive a government order. According to the report, the proposal could also mandate that any communications service based overseas ensure its communications are routed through an American server so that the government is able to collect and wiretap those communications.

The administration's proposal could grant the government the means for extensive surveillance and is urging Congress to reject any proposal that does not protect Americans' privacy and civil liberties.

"It is important to realize that this proposal isn't simply applying the same sort of wiretap system we have for phones to the Internet; it would require reconfiguring and changing the nature of the Internet," said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office.

The ACLU remains very concerned that this proposal is a clear recipe for abuse and will make it that much easier for the government to gain access to our most personal information. Americans should not simply surrender their privacy and other fundamental values in the name of national security. We strongly encourage Congress to not rubberstamp this proposal that will grant the government the ability to conduct broad surveillance on innocent Americans.

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