The FBI is forging ahead in its push for U.S. laws that would allow the agency to wiretap social networking sites and other providers of Internet communications, such as email and instant messaging, according to CNET.com.
FBI Director Robert Mueller confirmed during a congressional hearing this week that the FBI still wants an Internet wiretap law, but he did not say when the Obama administration would present a proposal.
The explosion of online communications as more Americans rely less on traditional wire line telephones has made it harder to keep track of illegal activities, the FBI argues. The agency wants providers of Internet-based devices and service providers to install back doors for government eavesdropping.
The FBI’s proposal would amend a 1994 law, called the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA, that currently applies only to telecommunications providers, not Web companies. From the FBI’s perspective, expanding CALEA to cover VoIP, Web e-mail, and social networks isn’t expanding wiretapping law: If a court order is required today, one will be required tomorrow as well. Rather, it’s making sure that a wiretap is guaranteed to produce results.
Governments around globe have increased surveillance of online communications in response to pro-democracy demonstrations fueled in large part by instant communications via Twitter, Facebook and other social networking sites.
Should the U.S. government’s wiretap laws be extended to cover online communications?