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Court Backs Broadband Wiretap Access 95

Posted by Zonk
from the please-enjoy-your-life-citizen dept.
bitkid writes "Reuters reports that the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected a petition aimed at overturning a FCC decision requiring broadband providers and others that offer Internet telephone service to comply with wiretap laws. According to the court, private networks would not be subject to the wiretap requirements. Just the same, networks connected with a public network would have to comply with the law." From the article: "The court concluded that the FCC requirement was a 'reasonable policy choice' even though information services are exempted from the government's wiretapping authority."
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Court Backs Broadband Wiretap Access

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  • Join Tor Today!!! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ferrellcat (691126) * on Friday June 09, 2006 @04:29PM (#15505206)
    Enough is Enough! http://tor.eff.org/ [eff.org]
    • Won't work, they'll tap you at the first hop (the cable company's router) if they have to.
      • by Dunbal (464142) on Friday June 09, 2006 @04:42PM (#15505350)
        Won't work, they'll tap you at the first hop (the cable company's router) if they have to.

              Nahh they'll just throw you in jail on suspicion of being a terrorist, and a judge will claim contempt until you give them the encryption keys.
        • Nahh they'll just throw you in jail on suspicion of being a terrorist

          Exactly.. their (lame) point: "If you have nothing to hide, then why browse anonymously?

        • Re:Join Tor Today!!! (Score:3, Informative)

          by Tackhead (54550)
          > > Won't work, they'll tap you at the first hop (the cable company's router) if they have to.
          >
          > Nahh they'll just throw you in jail on suspicion of being a terrorist, and a judge will claim contempt until you give them the encryption keys.

          "Settle down, you two. This isn't 'either/or' thing!"
          - Your Government

        • by vertinox (846076) on Friday June 09, 2006 @05:26PM (#15505731)
          Nahh they'll just throw you in jail on suspicion of being a terrorist, and a judge will claim contempt until you give them the encryption keys.

          IANAL but I've been told by one that it is often to your benefit in certain situations to plead the 5th, refuse to testify, or if they won't allow for that claim ignorance that you have fogotten even though you will end up with some type of punishment or contempt in court.

          But only if the punishment of what the crime is if it outweighs the charge of contempt.

          The truth of the conversation was whether or not it was ok to refuse to take a breathalyzer test. If you refuse to take it, you can get your license supsended up to 12 months, but if you take it and were convicted of drunk driving you could face jail time plus 5 years suspension...

          Now don't everyone go refusing breath tests now because these laws vary state to state, but the lawyer also told me without hard evidence it is easier to me off (errr don't ask) with a judge or jury because beyond reasonable doubt means there is real evidence that you commited a crime... Not hearsay that since you refused the test that you must be drunk.

          However... Like I said before talk to your lawyer if you really want to know about the rules of this in your state (some states have refusal means a lot more)

          So to apply to this situation and the moral of this situation... If you ever find yourself in a room full of FBI agents demanding your encryption keys... Explain to them it is your constitutional right (the 5th) to remain silent and you wish to speak to your lawyer so he can advise you how to proceed.

          If a judge is ordering your encryption keys to be released, then have a frank discussion with your lawyer over whether or not the information that is contained on those drives will get you more jailtime if convicted than jailtime for refusing to comply.

          Although... If you find yourself strapped on a table with a room full of NSA or CIA agenents with one of them weilding a cattle prod and other asking for those keys in a stern german accent... Well... Best of luck then.
          • IANAL but I've been told by one that it is often to your benefit in certain situations to plead the 5th, refuse to testify, or if they won't allow for that claim ignorance that you have fogotten even though you will end up with some type of punishment or contempt in court.

            Yep! Mod parent up! While IANAL, I do know you do have a Constitutional right to not incriminate yourself. They can't make you do anything.

            The technique described above is used everyday in court.

            This is exactly what happened to the journ
            • Oh, and due to double jeopardy rules, you can't get locked up for it twice, so the judge can't just keep you in a loop

              I wouldn't bet on that.

              Double Jeopardy means you can't be punished twice for the same offense. It does not give you a license to repeat the offense by continuing to refuse a judge's lawful order.

              "Get Out Of Jail Free" cards aren't often to be found in real life.

          • Although... If you find yourself strapped on a table with a room full of NSA or CIA agenents with one of them weilding a cattle prod and other asking for those keys in a stern german accent... Well... Best of luck then.

            Well... That's what truecrypt is for.
            • "Although... If you find yourself strapped on a table with a room full of NSA or CIA agenents with one of them weilding a cattle prod and other asking for those keys in a stern german accent... Well... Best of luck then."

              "Well... That's what truecrypt is for."


              Um... someone ought to be reminded to never, ever mention Truecrypt in this context again (i.e., imprisonment and other sundry legal sanctions), unless one wants to cue another endless onslaught of:
        • by HotBlackDessiato (842220) on Friday June 09, 2006 @05:38PM (#15505820)
          I'm repeating what someone else remarked here when I say there is a solution. Given the privacy climate, it might also become the standard encryption strategy. Follow this: You have a regular private key which does decrypt, and a fake 'I've been caught' key which decrypts into something innocuous.

          Add features to make it indistinguishable(can this be done??) from the regular decryption, and I think what you end up with is actual privacy. Although with one very upset government on our hands, but that's another day.

          IMHO the government has severely shot itself, and by extension, us in the footal region by overreaching and prompting this flavour of technical reaction. This is an irreversible response...when lowly citizens taste their first control over their personal data, there's no reason, from their perspective to go back. Is there?

          "Well since I know I'm doing nothing wrong, there's no reason for my info to be examined. Since it's now my choice, I'll keep encypting"

          See, now the argument goes both ways.
          • by EndlessNameless (673105) on Friday June 09, 2006 @06:46PM (#15506306)
            What you describe with a fake key is not possible. I would suggest reading up on symmetric key cryptography.

            While I suppose it is possible to use a crypto PROGRAM that spews out innocuous text in response to your fake key, the government investigators will most certainly be decrypting the cyphertext with their own application. The crypto algorithms just perform a series of mathematical operations on either a block of data or a stream of data. There is no known way to make one instance of cyphertext decrypt into two different sensible plaintext outputs depending on which of two keys are used. I suppose someone could design an algorithm to do this, but it sure as hell won't be easy.

            No existing crypto algorithm in wide use has the ability to do what you describe (not Rijndael, not DES, nothing). Using your fake key on the real cyphertext will return a bunch of gibberish, which will make it very obvious that you gave them a fake key.

            You might want to look into something else. There is a related field, stenography, which deals with hiding the existence of your data. Combining good encryption with good stenography can make it very difficult to discover you data, as an attacker would have to find it first, then attempt to decrypt it. Handing over your crypto keys doesn't do anyone any good if they cannot find coherent cyphertext to decrypt.
          • If decrypting the same data into two believable outcomes isn't possible, how about this: given a block of encrypted binary data, up to a half of the volume is the "real" data (but encrypted), and an identical amount is "fake" data. When the "real" key is used, the "real" data is decrypted, but when the "oh no, I'm caught" key is used, the "fake" data is decrypted into something innocuous. In both cases, you are left with a indecypherable block of gobbledigook along with the decrypted data.

            This seems very po
      • Re:Join Tor Today!!! (Score:2, Informative)

        by sdnoob (917382)
        Won't work, they'll tap you at the first hop (the cable company's router) if they have to.

        traffic is encrypted out of your box, so while the ISP will know who you're talking to (your entry node), they won't know *what* you're talking about, or what the final destination of the traffic is.
      • TOR encrypts before it even leaves your computer I thought?

    • I am not a fan of this. It's like having the business cards of all major heroin dealers in the country all stashed in your desk.

      It's a lot easier to require encrypted communication from the website/service you're accessing. Market forces. But it will not happen until the people at MySpace can understand the need for this, and that won't be soon.
    • Re:Join Tor Today!!! (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I don't believe you can pipe VOIP over TOR. You can however over anoNet [brinkster.net].

      Take the net from them before they take it from you.
  • Encryption
  • Encryption (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Harmonious Botch (921977) on Friday June 09, 2006 @04:30PM (#15505225) Homepage Journal
    What's the point of a wiretap if we can encrypt? Or will encryption become illegal?
    • Re:Encryption (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Poppler (822173) on Friday June 09, 2006 @04:32PM (#15505243) Journal
      What's the point of a wiretap if we can encrypt?

      To spy on regular citizens. Real terrorists and criminals will use encryption, but the average person will not.
      • Re:Encryption (Score:4, Insightful)

        by kfg (145172) on Friday June 09, 2006 @04:49PM (#15505412)
        Real terrorists and criminals will use encryption, but the average person will not.

        Therefore using encryption will be probable cause. Have nice day.

        KFG
        • Re:Encryption (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Poppler (822173) on Friday June 09, 2006 @04:54PM (#15505457) Journal
          To any rational person, it doesn't follow that if terrorists use encryption, then everyone who uses encryption is a terrorist. Of coarse, that won't stop the government from making that logical leap...
          • It doesn't matter if the government makes that leap if your jury qualifies as rational people. Assuming, of course, that you're a rational person (in which case, you're not a terrorist), you could demand that a jury of your peers specifically refer to rational people.

            Of course, there's a reason we have Guantanamo Bay. I'd imagine most powerful countries have concentration camps as well, or some equivalent convenient holding area for political prisoners.

      • Real terrorists and criminals will use encryption, but the average person will not.

        Where does this idea come from that all criminals and terrorists are master spies who never make stupid mistakes?

        Generally speaking, criminals and terrorists are that way BECAUSE they're stupid (with various exceptions, of course).

    • Re:Encryption (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Geekenstein (199041)
      Most encryption can be broken, especially when it is something that has to be done quickly for time sensitive applications, like VoIP data (computation time is bad when you're talking in real time). If the government wants the information bad enough, they'll dissect it.

      Even then, you might well be surprised at how many people just use Vonage to talk about committing a crime, just like they use normal phones today.

      The smart ones will encrypt, of course. They may even use good encryption. But scrambled data i
      • especially when it is something that has to be done quickly for time sensitive applications

        The hardest part with encryption is generating the key to encrypt the rest of the data with, not the encrypting itself. Given that, you can pre-generate the keys in the background, only activating them when it's time.
      • Re:Encryption (Score:1, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Most encryption can be broken, especially when it is something that has to be done quickly for time sensitive applications, like VoIP data (computation time is bad when you're talking in real time). If the government wants the information bad enough, they'll dissect it.

        Bullshit. AES is fast enough to be done in a few milliseconds for the block sizes that VoIP needs. The main latency is still from you to your ISP.

        And if anyone had broken AES, you'd surely know about it.

        • And if anyone had broken AES, you'd surely know about it.

          Yes, I'm sure you're right. After all, who would have a vested interest in not releasing that fact?
          • If the spooks managed to break AES and actually used it to prosecute anybody, they'd have a pretty hard time keeping it a secret. My guess is that unless you are doing something really bad(tm), they would let you get away or find another angle to nail you from, rather than tip their hand.
    • Or will encryption become illegal?

      Well, not ecxaaaaaaactly. It'll just be defined as Obstruction of Justice.

      KFG
    • No one prevents you from speaking in code to your Mom on the phone (land line / mobile) either, yet those can also be tapped.
    • Encryption is fine when you're connecting peer-to-peer... but connect as secure as you want to a VoIP-to-phone provider, they'll have to hand over your unencrypted stream at the point they're decrypting it to get to the PSTN.
    • Re:Encryption (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by hacker (14635)
      What's the point of a wiretap if we can encrypt? Or will encryption become illegal?

      Why not, its already illegal [gnu-designs.com] to withold your encryption keys in the UK, the US is soon to follow.

      • "Why not, its already illegal [gnu-designs.com] to withold your encryption keys in the UK, the US is soon to follow."

        Well, the UK does have the drawback of having no formal constitution to which detainees could appeal (as they can try to with the 5th amendment to the US constitution).

        Nevertheless, I appreciate your point, especially when "national security" so easily trumps constitutional rights in the US already.

        In other news, written constitutions worldwide are devaluing faster than Germany
    • Bruce Schneier once said, of his own work, that he and his colleagues started out with the idea that cryptography was a sort of magic security dust that you could sprinkle on the world and make problems go away. But the more they explored the subject, the more they came to realize that was a false idea.

      Encryption has its uses, sure, but it isn't easy. How do you plan to distribute keys, for instance? How do you keep people following reliable security protocols and avoid social engineering attacks? It's
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 09, 2006 @04:33PM (#15505251)
    The court concluded that the FCC requirement was a 'reasonable policy choice' even though information services are exempted from the government's wiretapping authority.


    Someone is overstepping their bounds, and needs to get slapped.
    • With this case, it might be better to read the court's opinion (PDF warning) [uscourts.gov], see how they came to their decision, and then decide whether you agree with it.
      • by HiThere (15173) * <charleshixsn&earthlink,net> on Friday June 09, 2006 @10:18PM (#15507247)
        Legalistically, he gave reasonable arguments.

        Of course, accepting those arguments rather destroys the idea of thinking of the courts as either the guardians of justice or the guardians or our rights, or anything else that is traditionally used to justify their existence. It instead turns them into the guardians of the status quo, provided it's supported by those in power. (I.e., not EVEN just the guardians of the status quo, but only a restricted subset of that which doesn't much need guarding.)

        But he quoted various laws (that I never agreed to or authorized any of my "representatives" to agree do [Here representatives refers to "representational democracy" and refers to not only members of the House, but also to Senators and elected members of both the judiciary and the executive branch]). There is a totally insane number of laws, so I accept that he quoted the laws accurately. That has nothing to do with justice, but only with legalism.

        If I accept that he ruled as the laws and procedures require, then I am simultaneously accepting that the court system is intrinsically void of justice. That though justice may occasionally be found there, it is purely by happenstance. His ruling made NO appeal to justice. ALL that was mentioned was laws and precedents. Now there are enough varied precedents that generally lawyers on both sides of any case can quote precedents to support their point of view, so any appeal to precedent without a simultaneous demonstration of how this precedent yield justice in this situation is immediately suspect. When the decision itself appears to be without justice, then it is imperative that the court demonstrate how it actually *is* just. I did not find that in the file.

        Obviously, IANAL. I *am* a citizen. And decisions like this one have left me two steps short of voting the straight anarchist ticket. (A useless gesture, admittedly, and that's good, since any avowed anarchist who is a party member is an obvious hipocrite...well, unless they are syndicalist or some such. They make me want to agree with the Nihilists, but I remember how that led to Stalin.)

        Given judgements like this, I can understand why the feds are so anxious to render jury trials impotent. Corrupt to the core.

    • Someone is overstepping their bounds, and needs to get slapped.

      Don't worry, I'm sure their wrists will be very sore when this is all over.

    • Seems to me like the government is not even attempting to pretend that this is legal. They have truly just started making shit up.
    • I believe Dubya would call him an activist judge, but since it is furthering his goals I'm guessing he won't say much.

      ~X~
  • Networks (Score:2, Insightful)

    by inexia (977449)
    Don't private networks eventually connect with public networks anyway? *scratches head*
  • by HotBlackDessiato (842220) on Friday June 09, 2006 @04:36PM (#15505279)
    ...and would like to take this opportunity to freely voice my ardent support for the current administration, congress, judiciary and the brave men and women at homeland security. You make it possible for me to have no alternative but to state my views thusly from now on when in public. Thanks a bunch.
    • Voicing your opinion is great, isn't it. For instance, I am enjoying voicing my opinion that this constant privacy invasion needs to stop.

      Hold on, I'll be right back, there's somebody at the door.
  • Is it just me... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    ... or is everything technology-related thing that the US government touches in the past few years pretty much a travesty? How long before some of these lawmakers start dying off from old age and natural causes, because apparently they'll never get out of office any other way (being voted out for disgusting behaviour, and repeatedly failing the citizens they're intended to serve)
    • by rovingeyes (575063)
      How long before some of these lawmakers start dying off from old age and natural causes

      So at this point, you have basically given up. What ever happened to the America I used to know, which questioned and challenged every thing and fought for its rights? I sincerely do hope you are not in your 20s or younger. Because if you are, God really save America!

      • What ever happened to the America I used to know, which questioned and challenged every thing and fought for its rights?

        I can't be sure, but there is a good chance the public education system had something to do with it...
      • >What ever happened to the America I used to know, which questioned and challenged every thing and fought for its rights?

        It got overrun with Idiot's, Retard's, Corupt politicians and Buisnessmen as well as Corperations and Lobbyists, Not to mention Copyright abusers and patent graber's and Law's giving so much power to the Richest most corupt of the aformentioned.

        Which hasn't been helped by thoughs of the rest who should know better and be very alarmed to the point of rebel
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 09, 2006 @04:45PM (#15505380)
    That goddamn neocon has taken more liberties from us in the past 6 years then the combined total of all presidents. All in the name of fighting Global terrorism. Fucking please.....

    Congress(House) votes down Net neutrality in the name of better service to consumers (fucking corporate profit!!!!!!) and more censorship than China I'll bet....
    Republicans are facists
    Democrats are Socialists.
    Liberatarians(sp?) are nutbags...
    Green Party is for saving pigeons...

    Damn isn't there a party left for the common man......

    The only people who have it good in this country or lying politicians, corporate whores, scumbag lawyers, and slimy lobbyists...
  • by MikeRT (947531) on Friday June 09, 2006 @04:49PM (#15505410) Homepage
    When not abused by a fascist ass like Bush. However, let's not kid ourselves here. VoIP is the future of telecom. The court knows this too and said that it's within the spirit of the law. The great thing about the Internet is that VoIP might actually balkanize to the point that it'll be harder for the government to keep track of all of the different protocols, but as long as they are theoretically wiretappable, it should be fine legally.
    • by Bob_Robertson (454888) on Friday June 09, 2006 @05:29PM (#15505748) Homepage
      Wiretapping is a legitimate power with a court order, as per the 4th Amendment. It was the 4th Amendment which granted the power to search in the first place.

      And the problem with "a fascist ass like Bush" is that any power granted to any level of government will be abused. No matter how noble the present office holder is, there will be a fascist little twit there at some point.

      That is why granting power to government doesn't work. It has never worked. Leviathan always grows, always gains more power to itself. Any "emergency" power today will be tomorrows "Legitimate Power". That's why the American Constitution has no provision for suspension of said Constitution. If it did, an "emergency" would be quickly manufactured and those Constitutional limitations on government power forsaken.

      There are those who see "illegal combatant" as just another excuse for an abuse of power they want to do anyway.

      Bob-

    • Back in the day, witetapping was for phones, for some phones (because the tech wasn't there to snoop en masse), and it impacted most people not at all. It was a tool against crooks.

      Nowadays and increasingly, we are going to be always online, always interconnected, sending and recieving, and faced with interception that could theoretically be continuous - a panopticon. Or, we could decide that the government can no longer own that power, and snatch it back from them.

      I'd like to see the USA introduce a new co
  • From ordering private citizens to leave their doors permanently unlocked to ease the government's way in the service of a "lawful" search warrant?
  • by zappepcs (820751) on Friday June 09, 2006 @04:55PM (#15505469) Journal
    Not just because I think that government (politicians) is not able to deal with change or technology, but because they will now have a reason to become technology savvy. With the proper warrant, a wire-tap on a phone has been acceptable in the past. Once they get the technology down pat, the only way to make sure that you are not tapped is to hide everything, and that is simply not how it was meant to be. In a wild thought, if you look at the US constitution, and the 'right to bear arms' issue, while the founders never envisioned the Internet, I'm PRETTY DAMNED CERTAIN (TM) that they would be alright with using your own encryption, or any other means of self armament to protect you from too much government intrusion in to your daily life.

    I'm waiting for this issue to get tested in the court system..... I think its a constitutionally granted rights issue, not a simple matter of being able to 'hunt for terrists' at will. The rights of law abiding free men and women, necessarily uphold the rights of criminals to the same treatment. Changing that status quo means treating the law abiding people as criminals, and that is wrong.

    The scariest part is that while a judge can say one way or the other, there is currently no manner for the people, the courts, or anyone else to manage how the government does such things. By that, I mean that there is no technically savvy oversight of such activities... sort of the ignorant being in charge of a group of hackers with malice in mind. We know where that will lead....
  • This just means that they can get warrants to tap your Vonage phone etc. This just brings your IP phone in parity with your land line.
  • Public ? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Joebert (946227)
    So where's this public network I keep hearing about, & how much does it cost ?
    I've been paying my membership fees to access my service providers private networks for years now.
  • Ok, so the VPN circuit is fair game and subjet to be monitored, what if you use heavy end to end encryption? Are you committing some abstract act of 'interference with the authorities' and inviting a raid?

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