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FBI's Wiretapping Demands May Nix Verio Deal 215

An Anonymous Coward pointed to a story on the AP wire, writing: "Why does the FBI and US government have problems with this merger? Is there some sinister wiretap access deal between the current US ISPs ? [From the article:] 'An NTT spokesman told the Journal a pending U.S. government review of the deal is a response to FBI and Justice Department concerns that law-enforcement agencies maintain access to Verio's Internet structure to obtain wiretaps and serve subpoenas for information. ... In telecommunications deals, the FBI has asked for assurances that only U.S. facilities be used to handle U.S. traffic. The FBI has insisted the companies employ U.S. citizens to handle wiretapping activities.'" A fellow-traveling A.C. points to coverage on CNNfn. Does this bother anyone?
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FBI's Wiretapping Demands May Nix Verio Deal

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  • So when the CIA and NSA merge with foreign intelligence agencies to create Echelon and surveil US corporations and citizens, it's ok, but prevent the FBI from doing the same, and it's no-go.

    It's all so much clearer to me now, this is all just a turf battle.
    --
  • I think this is more about the right to tap and not an acusation that Verio is tapping anyone. By law, the FBI does have the right to tap lines (following the correct proceedure, of course) and they wantt to make sure that they maintain that right.

    kwsNI
  • so what would happen if you really pissed her off

    Same thing she always does. Kill people. :)

    Finkployd
  • Most of what we have on Cointelpro in the '60s is because they've had to release that ancient data under freedom of information laws.

    The Judi Bari [judibari.org] case occurred in the 1990. I would also be surprised to find that the FBI didn't try and tap some phone lines of anti-WTO [publicagenda.org] organizers (especially after the reasonably successfull work in Seattle. I know of one person, here in Canada, who had her phone tapped for political activity in 1995. As she put it, "About the only interesting thing they got out of it was some really nice recipes". Other people can probably point to other recent examples.

    Taking civil and political rights for granted is probably our greatest risk in losing them. Fighting to maintain such rights is far easier than a fight to get them back. Unfortunately it's not easy to see the value of the fight until we're obviously in the latter situation.
    `ø,,ø`ø,,ø

  • Well, excuse me for pointing this out, but Timothy what's his name who blew up the federal building in Oklahoma wasn't a Muslim, wasn't a foreigner, wasn't a homosexual and wasn't an "enviro-nazi".

    He was a blond-haired (blue-eyed?) conservative who "served his country" in the military and probably voted Republican before he was arrested for the deadliest terrorist attack on US soil in recent history. I know of no evidence that he announced his plans to blow up Oklahoma over any phone line that the FBI bothered to tap.

    I could further point out that, although Martin Luther King [umd.edu] is now considered a Civil Rights hero, the FBI didn't just wire tap him, they tried to discredit him with their wiretap info. As for the people who shot MLK, the FBI probably considered them good, upstanding members of the KKK.

    NOW you can try and justify violations of, and limits on, our civil rights "so the government can protect us".
    `ø,,ø`ø,,ø

  • People who do not plan illegal activities on the telephone have nothing to fear. It's that simple.
    I, on the other hand, have been using 4136 bit encryption keys to share nuclear acquisition plans with my Muslim Girlfriend. Even then, we never speak in cleartext. To the casual observer it would look like cyber sex, but every time I say "I lick your erect nipple", it means that I got 15 grams of Plutonium from our contact at LNL.

    You don't want to know what it means when I type "I moan in ecstasy".

    Of course I'm not gonna post this, honey! What do you think I am... Stupid?
    `ø,,ø`ø,,ø

  • How will they know that you are not doing anything illegal, unless they monitor you in the first place?

    That is an extremely dangerous place you are going. You may also wish all employers be granted full access to strip search employees daily, just to make sure they aren't stealing company property or secrets?

    I sure hope your post was a troll or a sick joke.

  • Actually, it should read the way it is written with can't because they won't be able to do the wiretap (in the particular setup that is being discussed in this article) without the help of the communication provider. And I don't know of any providers that would even consider providing a wiretap without the proper court orders. There are several reasons they wouldn't do it without them:
    • It uses up their resources
    • They could get in trouble later
    • Most providers aren't happy about having to do it at all, much less without the proper paper work!

    Disclaimer: I work for Ericsson, but the views expressed here are my own and not those of my employer.
    ---


  • Actually, in this case, the authorization for the wiretap does not come from themselves, they have to get a court order from a judge. They can't just randomly wiretap people's communications without a reason. It is similiar to getting a search warrant, you have to get a court order for that. Are you suggesting that we should stop allowing
    "lawfully-authorized" searches as well?


    Of course not. That would be naive, to say the least.

    But it's also naive to ignore the fact that LEA have access to "tame" judges at all levels: local, state, and Federal. These are judges that ignore patently fabricated testimony by officers under oath, that allow tainted evidence.

    The Supreme Court, despite upholding Miranda recently (thought they rather grudgingly admitted that it had become part of the nation's culture -- perps know Miranda better than cops, having seen it on Cops and a myriad movies and tv shows), have ruled that illegally seized evidence is admissable if the officers acted in good faith. Uh huh.

    We've come a long way from "Turn 'em Loose Bruce".

    k.

    --
    "In spite of everything, I still believe that people
    are really good at heart." - Anne Frank
  • A little naive, but not as much as you think.

    A) No, I don't think anyone does, but the odds are high that if you are being tapped, someone is going to come a knockin'. Otherwise, they discover it was a waste of their time and they throw the tapes in storage for a while just in case, and then they toss 'em after a couple of years.

    B) Yes. In fact, if I really gave a damn I'd do the research and bring up the cases. I know there have been cases were it was discovered at trial that a tap was illegally obtained and after the case was thrown out the defendant sued for damages and one. It may come as a surprise, but most judges are really big on the Bill of Rights, and are not to keen on cops who decide to ignore it.

    C) True, but law enforcement has the right to prove your guilt, so long as they act in accordance with the terms of search & seizure. Innocent until proven guilty, really only applies to the trial process, law enforcement is free to assume your guilty.

    D) You are absolutely correct. And the reason why the system (as a whole) works. Occassionaly some in the process gets out of line, and someone some where else has to yank them back into place.

  • I like how the law authorizes themselves power when they feel the need for it.

    Actually, in this case, the authorization for the wiretap does not come from themselves, they have to get a court order from a judge. They can't just randomly wiretap people's communications without a reason. It is similiar to getting a search warrant, you have to get a court order for that. Are you suggesting that we should stop allowing "lawfully-authorized" searches as well?
    ---

  • Why does the FBI worry? It's not like US law isn't enforced in other countries already. DeCSS, anyone?
  • Well, a number of LEAs can have taps on the same person, I believe that CALEA mentions a provider must support up to 5 LEAs on the same user number.

    That still doesn't explain the 1 in 10 ratio, the expense of supporting that is one reason service providers are making unhappy noises about CALEA.

  • Cointelpro was in the 60's. That was a completely different time. Granted that history repeats itself I'm trying not to live in a world of complete government power or in a world where criminals run freely. It's just where your balance of government power is. That's why I said in my initial post that I still did not know what I wanted. I see the positives and the negatives to both sides. So at this point I'm "indifferent".
  • Maybe we should let the Chinese goverment set up a telcom in the Washington DC area? Yes, the govt has reasons for controlling radio/tv/telcom ownership by other countries.
  • by chriscrick ( 127128 ) on Thursday July 06, 2000 @09:20AM (#953441)
    I notice a lot of fearmongering in this thread about the CIA and NSA snooping around the affairs of the American public. One of the hats I wore in my last job was as Intelligence Oversight officer for a unit within one of our intel agencies. As such, it was my responsiblity to make sure that my department conducted itself with complete probity under Executive Order 12333 [tscm.com], which absolutely forbids covert intelligence collection activities against "United States persons" (defined in the Order) by any agency except the FBI, and by them only for valid law enforcement reasons, possibly requiring warrants and court orders.

    I'm certainly not saying that it never happens, by any agency, at any classification level (no matter how deep you make it into the TS-SCI world, there's always weird stuff going on somewhere above), but it never happened in my department, and never to my knowledge anywhere else.

    Chris

  • We all know that the U.S. government wiretaps. This article isn't about whether or not that is right. Wiretapping is normal, and there are, on occassion, real reasons why wiretapping is the best way to go about solving a problem or answering a question. I know-- as part of my job I analyze FBI data. It would be foolish to assume that ALL governments don't have some form of surveilance in place to check up on those aspects of their citizens' lives that warrent it. The Japanese constitution, however, prohibits the Japanese government from any form of wiretapping. (Not to say that all governments always stick to their constitutions -or equivalents-, but...) That the FBI feels compelled to say, "we don't believe you, we don't trust you!" to the Japanese government is perhaps excessive, but well within the realm of normal FBI activity.

    In the Techserver article [techserver.com] it is stated that the FBI is asking for assurances (asking for assurances -- they're not allowed to actually interfere with international issues.) that U.S. facilities handle U.S. telcom traffic. Here's the real issue: if this starts becoming a standard, it has cascading implications for the involvement of the U.S. in the global telcom industry. How can we participate in what is by nature a global entity when we're supposed to draw firm and distinct lines between "us" and "them?"
  • Ummm, that's not necessarily the case, especially with the current makeup of the Court. The Justices who are "tough on crime" hold a solid majority, although Rhenquist and Scalia surprise me somtimes. Wiretapping has traditionally been held by the Court to be within the realm of powers granted to the Federal government, and very few wiretapping cases seen favorable outcomes as far as civil libertarians are concerned. As such, I doubt that there would even be enough votes cast for the Court to hear such a case, yet alone have an outcome that would be unfavorable to the LEAs.

    - Rev.
  • >> "Also, the Japanese do not have an army, national defense is provided, at a fee, by the United States."
    >Semantics aside, the JDF (Japanese Defense Force) is an army/navy/airforce.
    From the CIA FactBook [cia.gov]:
    • Military branches: Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (Army), Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (Navy), Japan Air Self-Defense Force (Air Force)
    • Military expenditures-dollar figure: $42.9 billion (FY98/99)
    • Military expenditures-percent of GDP: 0.9% (FY98/99)

    `ø,,ø`ø,,ø
  • I agree with the above poster. Our goverment has to be involved in things like this. While they may seem to be involving themselves for the wrong reasons at a glance and we all immediately jump to discredit and say how horrible of a injustice this is, we need to think clearer. If the gov were to allow mergers without fairly robust investigations(about the only thing they seem to not investigate is patents but I won't get into that now) we would be in for a world of trouble. Suppose they were to allow mergers of the proportion of AOL and Microsoft merging. Think about it. They have to prevent some merging for that reason. This merger is seeming to be a problem because they do not want the ability to lose investigative rights to these boxes. There are times when the gov agencies need to be able to monitor boxes for activity. Think of how useful the monitoring of the script kiddies was in the story earlier today. If the FBI or state police computer crimes divisions gets that stuff it should be fairly easy for them to bust a script kiddie. I may be strange but I think it is a good thing if they can put a kid on probabtion or short jail time to keep him and maybe a few others from DOSing my servers. Oh well too much rambling need more sleep.
  • I have a friend who worked at an ISP where our illustrious National LEA called up and asked for a tap to be put on someone's traffic. When he innocently asked for a copy of the court order enabling the tap, the illustrious officer "went ballistic".

    It's a lot easier for a police service to get this kind of 'favour' done if they don't have to do all of this politics bulshit with civilians who might just ask questions.
    `ø,,ø`ø,,ø

  • by Devil Ducky ( 48672 ) <slashdot@devilducky.org> on Thursday July 06, 2000 @08:15AM (#953447) Homepage
    they can't catch the evil pron runners that would take recources away from figuring out who is really under 13 on ICQ.

    Devil Ducky
  • From the article:
    An NTT spokesman told the Journal a pending U.S. government review of the deal is a response to FBI and Justice Department concerns that law-enforcement agencies maintain access to Verio's Internet structure to obtain wiretaps and serve subpoenas for information.
    Note the use of the word "maintain"; they are saying they currently have access to Verio's 'internet structure'.

    How would they (the Feds) lose that access due to the NTT purchase? Don't foreign corporations doing business in the US have to abide by US laws?

    I think there is something else going on here that has not come out yet. Why is NTT interested in a small-time Colorado ISP, that's operating at a loss? Follow the money.

    This is the beginning of the M$ counter-strike against the US govt...

  • Well, I've just posted non-anonymously, so we'll soon see if you're bullshitting. I rather suspect that you are. In the meantime, I suggest the following course of action:

    1) Look at this thread

    2) Note the number of responses dated *after* your "Troll Warning"

    3) Feel worthless.
  • Here we go again.... The US saved the world.. this is getting boring now. Education anyone?
  • Useful i would agree with, but common? As i would understand it, you do have to get the permission of a federal judge to set up a wiretap, and have it be admissable as evidance.

    as for why criminals use the phone and what have you? i don't know, guess they're just trying to get on the next showing of "worlds dumbest criminals"
  • This is just the US government covering its ass. They have full ability to tap Verio today, but once a non-US company, especially one as large as NTT, gets into the mix, the US won't have carte blanche control over Verio's wires.

    I wish the FBI would just back off and accept the fact that business is now global, and the US can't control every company in the world. It's fear and territorialism like this that's going to hold back a lot of benefit for NTT and Verio customers.

    +---+

  • I give not a phat phlying fsck if I come off sounding like a rebarbative oligophreniac, but you sir (or ma'am), are a schmegegge... I joined this country's Navy to defend the freedom of myself and my countrymen, at the expense of my own life if need be, and I will be goddamned if I will see the military organization transmogrified into a group of glorified jackbooted thugs. I doubt there is a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine in the country who would disagree with me. ITSN Eric W. Sprague AKA Kronoman
  • by isaac ( 2852 ) on Thursday July 06, 2000 @08:16AM (#953454)
    The FBI (and the NSA, either directly or by proxy) have been in bed with the telecoms industry in the USA since the very beginning. In 1994, Congress passed CALEA [epic.org] (the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act) which explicitly mandated that tap-and-trace functionality be built into digital telecom networks.

    Now, this is just my gut feeling, but I think the FBI's concerns over access are just a ruse. The real concern (from a national security standpoint) is more likely that NTT (the buyer, Japan's national telephone monopoly) will use the tapping capabilities built into Verio's networks for gathering of intelligence (economic or otherwise) as an agent of the Japanese gov't or corporations.

    -Isaac

  • I sincerely hope you're trolling here, or you're seriously missing the point... No kids that I know of have been arrested for talking about bombs, but I know more than a few who were suspended, or even expelled. Hell, I got busted just for mentioning the Anarchist's Cookbook... Of course, that's not a government issue, but the point is the pervasiveness of paranoia. It's sickening, is what it is.
  • Personally, i don't care for wiretap protections. I think they are outdated, and i think that the idea of government regulation in the information industry is a stupid idea.
  • In the united states, only citizens of the US are allowed to spy on the citizens of the US. Even though the constitution (that paper that our government officials wipe their butts with on every occasion they get) prohibits it. Think about it, Our government cant trust a forginer to spy on us, that forginer might spy back!

    Everyone forgets that this is the land of the double standard, Liberty and freedom for all! but we'll punish you if you dont agree with the Govt. (Kinda sounds like the ideals that hitler spoon fed his people.... and what did he do to the people that spoke out? I forget.... Oh yeah...)

  • You make a point that is dangerously close to the truth... Look at (although you may not see the connection, you will...) the number of abandonware ROM sites getting killed (I understand killing N64 and PSX sites, they're still making money off these, but NES and SNES? Really...), the whole DeCSS seizure, it shows paranoia and invasiveness spreading like a virus...
  • It's regardless, not irreguardless, squid-for-brains... Sorry. This argument has me ranting and raving...
  • Two FBI fiascoes of late involve the shooting of an unarmed mother carrying her baby and barbecueing a church congregation. Both cases should have been handled by the ATF, which is yet another problem agency. The man in charge, Dick Rogers, wanted his men to receive bonuses and promotions for these vile acts. I hear Mr. Rogers is no longer with the FBI, but I am sure he is not getting the internment he justly deserves. The FBI is not interested in the liberty of ordinary citizens, and indeed is willing to sacrifice them in large numbers to receive good press coverage. Janet Reno accepted responsibility for the deaths of children at Mount Carmel, but has yet to turn herself in for proper punishment. Don't hold your breath waiting. Do read, and live by, the Benjamin Franklin quote about liberty and safety.
  • Hey, great argument.
    "The honest would never object. If you object, you must not be honest."

    Except you left out a few other categories of people who should have something to fear:
    commie pinkos
    chinks, gooks, and japs
    faggots
    anarchists (and union organizers. They're probably pinkos anyway)
    nigger-lovers
    religious fanatics (like Koresh)
    gun nuts (like Koresh)
    animal-rights loons (PETA are pinkos too)
    hippies (they're all either pinkos, faggots or bums)
    bicyclists (what, are they too stooopid to drive?)
    crips (well, they're ok as long as they keep their mouths shut and don't get any ideas from their pinko friends)

    Ketzer,
    take a look at some history books.
    No place is free from oppressive, even violent, maintenance of social conformity. Sometimes laws are (inappropriately) used as tools, sometimes law enforcement agencies and their employees act illegally to threaten and harm people they dislike. It happens every couple of years somewhere in the US. At some point within the last few centuries, you could have been *killed* for being identified with one of those groups. I hope you're not so naive as to believe that it isn't still happening, and can't happen in the future.

    I don't know who the next wrongly oppressed group is going to be, but I think I want to make sure that they have the tools they need.
  • <sneer>Gee, now that you mention it, that's so true! Governments turning on their own citizens isn't really a big deal at all!</sneer>

    Frankly, there's a bunch of FBI who should have been thrown into the ocean for that kind of dictatorial, un-American betrayal of everything a free country and democracy should stand for. And hold your tongue about "since then" because you don't know what's going on now.

    Besides, how does this make the argument that the US government needs more power to spy on it's own citizens? You are fucking weak.

    Boss of nothin. Big deal.
    Son, go get daddy's hard plastic eyes.

  • The leap from the FBI monitoring everybody to the FBI requiring employers to monitor everybody durring business hours to disperse costs (and thus, employers gaining the right to strip search in the interest of national security) isn't very far of a leap.

    For the record, there already is a strongly regulated intelligence agency monitoring people for the security of the state. I, as a US citizen, just happen to think they aren't regulated enough (i.e. they have too much access already).

    If the US is not the kind of country you wish to live in, then please, find another. I, however, have no problem fighting (to the death, if necessary) to maintain the right of my children to discuss anything they wish freely. If they wish to joke about blowing up thier school, fine. I'd prefer they don't, but I'd still defend the right to. Acting on such discussions is totally different, and completely unforgivable. And, geez, isn't that already illegal?

  • by omenoracle ( 29659 ) on Thursday July 06, 2000 @11:09AM (#953464)
    Which is worse....the FBI wiretapping the american
    public, or the american public being deluded into
    believing that its ok?
  • > they can't catch the evil pron runners that would take recources away from figuring out who is really under 13 on ICQ.

    No, the reason they can't catch the evil pr0n-runners is because all their agents are too busy pretending to be under 13 while on ICQ! :) :) :)

  • Aren't a corporation's business dealings and physical infrastructure within the US subject to relevant US law in any case? How would the Verio deal affect FBI jurisdiction?

    Sure, the jurisdiction over the crime would remain the same, but not the jurisdiction over the evidence. I think they are anticipating hindered investigations.

  • Ah, but that doesn''t mean that the FBI and others aren't worried about the possiblity of delays in setting up such monitoring. Regardless of the practicality of running the servers outside of the US today, it still could be done and the legal tangle resulting would not be fun. A few weeks delay in setting up the tap might be important.

    And why would NTT replace native English speakers with their own people? It'd be cheaper to host the servers in Japan, burning bandwidth rather than the hassles of importing workers into the US.

    Note that current US laws are such that while a communications service provider may be required to provide certain information to a LEA, they are also prohibited from viewing that information themselves. Matters not if the workers are citizens of the USA or some other country.

    If the worker is in the US, they are subject to the local laws; and they aren't supposed to listen in or peek. If the subsidiary is in the US, it is subject to the local laws. So why is the FBI expressing concern and wanting those assurances?

  • Quite Correct. and jsut for the record: The DOI was drafted in 1776, the Constitution in 1789 at the close of the convention.
  • "First they came for the hackers.
    But I never did anything illegal with my computer,
    so I didn't speak up.
    Then they came for the pornographers.
    But I thought there was too much smut on the Internet anyway,
    so I didn't speak up.
    Then they came for the anonymous remailers.
    But a lot of nasty stuff gets sent from anon.penet.fi,
    so I didn't speak up.
    Then they came for the encryption users.
    But I could never figure out how to work PGP anyway,
    so I didn't speak up.
    Then they came for me.
    And by that time there was no one left to speak up."
    -- Unknown
  • You have to keep a sensible balance. On the one hand you don't want to give some stalker the ability to go out and prey on people with a $50 scanner, but on the other you need to leave the door open a little so that a proper warrant can be served. There have been studies that suggest most felons are not the most technically savvy individuals. Felons that can not create their own crypto often rely on commercially available solutions to hide their communications. You would think a directional antennae, and a rapid signal aquisition receiver would not be out of budget for the FBI, but this ruling may be intended to help the local law enforcement agencies as well. Its a more complex issue than it first appears if you think about it.
  • by purefizz ( 114470 ) on Thursday July 06, 2000 @07:57AM (#953471) Homepage
    Well, seeing as the telephone companies have been known to tap for years, why is this such a huge surprise. Not saying that Verio is doing such a thing, but you can even find packet sniffers on the machines they control in their own network. There could be all kinds of stuff someone could run even from a leased box. I'm the government has to take some measures to catch the evil pr0n runners!

    Cyber-Newscaster Ana Nova Sold for $144 million [cadfu.com]
  • This is the best argument I can think of for NOT availing yourself of the VPN services offered by many ISP's.

    Much better to roll your own with one of the many hardware or software products that will easilly allow you to create your own encrypted VPN's

    Then, provided the encryption is strong enough, let them tap away.

  • Add-Drop MUX-Routers. They're not after everything in the stream, just certain packets.

    And, actually, the FBI doesn't have to sift through all that data. It's up to the ISP to log everything that a LEA monitored customer of the ISP does.

  • If you had a ligitmate reason to wire-tap say, a kiddie porn dealer, would you as an FBI agent want to have to deal with international law in a matter that would normally be covered under simple interstate issues?
    Hogwash.

    you bring up kiddie porn in a political debate. That suggests that you ain't up to no good

    Verio remains a US company. US subsidiaries of foreign companies of course operate under US law. No international law involved

    This whole thing stinks. I think they do something illegal and are afraid the Japanese won't comply the way the current Verio owner does.

    f.

  • by the_other_one ( 178565 ) on Thursday July 06, 2000 @07:59AM (#953475) Homepage

    Echelon has the data stored already. It could pay for itself by selling info to the FBI and others.

  • I'd say it probably is becuase they are concerned about how much control they would have. I mean, there's a fair amount of paranoia here, but still - we all know that the US Govt/FBI/Misc US "Agency" will stoop to all sorts of levels, to find "Un-American Activities". Hell, Slashdot could be deemed Un-American.

    Mong.

    * ...Student, Artist, Techie - Geek *
  • "Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent." from Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov

    And what would Mr. Asimov have it be, the first refuge? Violence should always be the last refuge.
  • If challenged in the supreme court this would easily be deemd unlawful. This is a clear violation of an individuals right to privacy. Which the supreme court has set a precedence to uphold. The FBI could request information from the isp. But thats as far as their jurisdiction should go.
  • by nstrug ( 1741 )
    The WTO might actually have some legitimite work to do here. Blocking the NTT-Verio deal on the grounds that NTT is not a US company is might be seen as protectionism by the WTO who could rule against the US.

    On the other hand, seeing as most of the time the WTO behaves like the US' jailyard bitch I doubt it...

    Nick

  • by LocalYokel ( 85558 ) on Thursday July 06, 2000 @08:23AM (#953485) Homepage Journal
    Lately, I've been noticing a lot of billobards in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area pitching Eschelon Communications [eschelon.com]. I don't care how they spell it -- could you have even the least bit of trust in their PBX and/or Internet services???

    --
  • We've all done it. Sorry I was rude - bad day. I apologise.

    Nick

  • Perhaps, but if you look at the U.S. Code, Title 47, Chapter 1, Section 12 [cornell.edu], it reads: "it is made the duty of the Attorney General of the United States, by proper proceedings, to prevent any unlawful interference with the rights and equities of the United States under all acts of Congress relating to such." Title 47 serves as a vital part of the legislation passed regarding interstate communication.

    Furthermore, take a look at Section 13 [cornell.edu]:

    equal advantages and facilities in the interchange of business, as herein provided for, without any discrimination whatever for or adverse to the telegraph line of any or either of said connecting companies, or shall refuse to abide by or perform and carry out within a reasonable time the order or orders of the Federal Communications Commission, shall in every such case of refusal or failure be guilty of a misdemeanor, and, on conviction thereof, shall in every such case be fined in a sum of not exceeding $1,000, and may be imprisoned not less than six months; and in every such case of refusal or failure the party aggrieved may not only cause the officer or agent guilty thereof to be prosecuted under the provisions of this section, but may also bring an action for the damages sustained thereby against the company whose officer or agent may be guilty thereof, in the district court of the United States

    Maybe the FBI will think twice before proceeding with their actions.

  • Are you suggesting that we should stop allowing
    "lawfully-authorized" searches as well?


    Oh, no, I like how the FBI has the resources to investigate wrong doings. The only problem I have is that not only can they investigate with great ability, they can also enforce with almost no limits. Me thinks the enforcement should be delegated off to local police. Balance of power and all that.

    Otherwise, someone influencial can really get the good 'ol boys in this tight organization on a campaign to really fix a person up good in the criminal justice system over even a simple mistake of associating with the wrong group. "Have you any affiliation with communists or used drugs in the past?"
  • I realized about 3 seconds after posting. I was thinking of Sprint and DTT merger talks. My bad.
  • by wfberg ( 24378 ) on Thursday July 06, 2000 @08:27AM (#953507)
    Now, this is just my gut feeling, but I think the FBI's concerns over access are just a ruse. The real concern (from a national security standpoint) is more likely that NTT (the buyer, Japan's national telephone monopoly) will use the tapping capabilities built into Verio's networks for gathering of intelligence (economic or otherwise) as an agent of the Japanese gov't or corporations.

    Interestingly enough the Japanese constitution, drawn up after its surrender at the end of WWII by the Allies (i.e. the United States) prohibit the Japanese government any form of wiretapping.

    Also, the Japanese do not have an army, national defense is provided, at a fee, by the United States.

    Obviously the inability of US law enforcement to wire-tap digital communications if and when Verio handles them via NTT is a concern. If NTT were not Japanese, but for instance Dutch (where ISPs will typically go along with any law enforcement request for cooperation or information even though there is no law that says they have to) the intelligence community would be a lot more at ease I suspect..

    Ironically, the Japanese government is the one government that will not be wire-tapping US nationals on the behalve of the US, because of their US-drafted constitution..


    --

  • Not long ago the whole economy of that region of the world 'fell into ruins' due to widespread corruption and collusion, of the type that a little wiretapping and open disclosure might have helped prevent.

    Actually, it was a little more complicated than that. Also, I'll note that wiretaps didn't prevent the S&L failure in the U.S.

    Really what a lack of wiretaps means is that the police have to do more legwork in order to catch criminals. It seems like a reasonable tradeoff for protecting basic rights of the people (who are, after all, innocent until proven guilty).

  • Not when the state executes the wrong guy, who was convicted on fabricated evidence, and who petitioned the state to allow him to prove hids innocence by DNA testing, which the state refused to allow in the name of so-called "closure". That's an incentive for the real killer to commit more murders.

    Yours WDK - WKiernan@concentric.net

  • by DavidInTx ( 9612 ) on Thursday July 06, 2000 @09:51AM (#953524)
    As shown here [gapcon.com], one of the tools that the NSA uses is the Paracel Textfinder [paracel.com].

    From the webpage for the textfinder: A single TextFinder application may involve trillions of bytes of textual archive and thousands of online users, or gigabytes of live data stream per day that are filtered against tens of thousands of complex interest profiles.
  • If challenged in the supreme court this would easily be deemd unlawful. This is a clear violation of an individuals right to privacy. Which the supreme court has set a precedence to uphold. The FBI could request information from the isp. But thats as far as their jurisdiction should go.

    Do you really think the supreme court rule in favor of privacy? After all, this is the same supreme court that has already restricted our 1st admentment rights. In this goverment, the only way to have any sort of privacy is to use heavy encryption.
  • by Kagato ( 116051 ) on Thursday July 06, 2000 @08:30AM (#953533)
    The problem isn't so much that it's an EU company. Hell, there are US defense contractors owned by EU companies. The problem is that it is a German company. There are laws that arouse from the holocaust and the disclosure of how much spying the DDR (East Germany) did on the public that make it difficult to share information with the gov't.

    You have laws against sharing all sorts of information, creating central databases, harvesting infromation. Hell, I'm suprised double click isn't going to sue.

    The problem is there could be a time where the Feds requests will put them at odds with German law, and when the cards fall, Germany has greater pull than the US.
  • Contrary to some of the other posts, I don't think this has anything to do with regulating the internet (other than on the face of the argument). It is arising from the FBI, et al.'s concern about being able to do their jobs the way they have in the past. They want to be able to have access to what person X said/wrote to anyone else at anytime the FBI/et al. believe they need to. That said, I think they need get over it. They cannot continue to monitor all aspects of communication the way they have up to the 80s. They will have to start using their brains and good old fashioned leg work to get the info they want. In some cases, that may mean that they do get everything they want for a case, but that is part of the price of the USA being in (or towards) the front of the technological boom that the world is in the midst of. The FBI/et al. can't expect to limit competition and the "free"-market just because they might loose access to some of their current monitoring mechanisms.
  • The FBI has insisted the companies employ U.S. citizens to handle wiretapping activities

    Whew! I'm sure glad they don't want any foreign nationals spying on me.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Once upon a time I thought I lived in a free country, and that the American people cared enough to keep it that way. Now I read post after post saying that the FBI should be able to squelch a legitimate business deal between private parties, because it might interfere with their ability to listen in on any private conversation they like. And this is called a "national security concern," which used to apply to foreign threats, and now apparently refers to American citizens. I'm glad we all trust the government (more than it trusts us). I'm glad our government has never abused the trust we give it, and that it's unthinkable that it ever will. I'm glad the founding fathers were wrong when they said the price of freedom is eternal viligence--it's much easier being a child all my life and letting Big Daddy protect and care for me. And I hope it's not true that those who refuse to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

    Now, go ahead with your flaming responses pooh-poohing the very thought that the federal government should be treated as a dangerous (if useful) animal, instead of as a perfectly trustworthy and benevolent shepherd for our flock of citizens.

  • Note the use of the word "maintain"; they are saying they currently have access to Verio's 'internet structure'.

    They 'have access' by virtue of the fact that Verio is currently within FBI jurisdiction. That does not necessarily imply that they have had physical access at any point prior to this. It's a question of maintaining jurisdiction.

  • by Yunzil ( 181064 ) on Thursday July 06, 2000 @09:56AM (#953551) Homepage
    People who do not plan illegal activities on the telephone have nothing to fear. It's that simple.

    If I'm not doing anything illegal, they have no business monitoring me. It's that simple.

  • by goingware ( 85213 ) on Thursday July 06, 2000 @10:02AM (#953556) Homepage
    If you worry as I do that people snoop on the Internet, then you should use encryption. Don't just use encryption for important secret messages, use it all the time so that the snoopers won't be able to tell when you're up to something they should be paying attention to. Even if you have nothing to hide, generating encrypted traffic on the net improves its overall security because it makes it more difficult for crackers to focus on those who appear to have something going because they use encryption (even encryption is subject to traffic analysis).

    Please read my page Why You Should Use Encryption [goingware.com].

    If you get your mail from and put web pages on a hosting service, then at a minimum you should use one that provides secure shell (ssh) and secure copy (scp) access. One such hosting service that does is Seagull Networks. [seagull.net] Does anyone know any others?

    When you retrieve your email via POP or load a web page via FTP your password is being transmitted in the clear. You have no control over which routers and cables it passes through in the process, so you have no way of knowing if someone's running a sniffer on a compromised host. Usually you have no knowledge even of the route, unless you go to the trouble to run traceroute regularly.

    You can download your email via an encrypted channel [betips.net] with ssh port forwarding if your mail host provides ssh. The instructions given are oriented to the BeOS but apply in general to any OS for which an SSH client exists.

    If you run a website that uses passwords please consider allowing the users to enter their passwords via SSL (https).

    If you use websites that require passwords, please use a different password for each site. At the very least, use a unique password for your important sites, like your email, web pages and financial sites. If you keep the passwords in a file (which you may have to do because there are so many sites that take passwords), encrypt the file.

    Be aware that most sites that have passwords do not encrypt them, otherwise they wouldn't be able to send you your password reminder in clear text. I've even used sites that mailed out password reminders in the clear every couple months just to prompt me to use the service. Note that anyone at the site who has root access, anyone who compromises the site or anyone running a sniffer on or near the site will be able to catch your passwords.

    Also I think it is very likely that many websites are provided for no other purpose than to collect passwords for later use by crackers - beware of that free trial and use a unique password if you must accept the offer!

    Use the anonymizer [anonymizer.com] or, if you have Windows 95 or 98, Freedom [freedom.net] to protect your privacy while you web surf.

    Finally, do you use a laptop computer? Do you have files on it that you don't wish to share with the random stranger who might steal it someday? How about your competitors? A thief won't likely be in the direct employ of your competitors but they may recognize the value of the information and sell it to them, or even post it on the net for fun.

    And remember in this information age the information on our computers is more valuable than the hardware itself, and unlike car stereos can continue providing value to a thief because, once it is fenced, it is still available to be fenced again.

    Depending on your OS, you should use PGPDisk [pgp.com] or the Linux encrypting kernel [kerneli.org] on your laptop.

    Consider encrypting important information on your desktop too. A friend of mine who is a software developer lost every machine in his company in a robbery - source code, strategic plans, and the customer database.

    I know of two cases where laptops were stolen from intelligence agents, once during the Gulf war, and once from an MI5 agent while he'd set it between his legs at a train station. Good thing they used encryption!

    Finally, read the Forum on Risks to the Public in Computers and Related Systems available on the Usenet News as comp.risks [comp.risks] and on the web at http://catless.ncl.ac.uk/Risks [ncl.ac.uk]

    Tilting at Windmills for a Better Tomorrow
  • Sounds to me like something likely to lead to people having greater interest in using "data havens" like the one at Sealand.

    Given the choice of:

    • Keeping your business open to FBI wiretapping, and
    • Not having your business open to FBI wiretapping,
    what would people rather have?
  • Just use Encryption for everything you do.
    Remember the British RIP bill (Regulation of Investigatory Powers) requires British citizens and companies to hand over crypto keys to the gov on demand; a two year jail term awaits those who refuse or have lost their keys. ( See http://www.fipr.org/rip/ )

    Don't think that the US could do the same ?

    Then consider that certain URI linking is on its way to becoming illegal in the US; enforcing this is a good reason for the FBI to tap ISP lines, no? (see http://www.eff.org/br/br1.html#1 )

  • The FBI and other LEAs are worried because of the potential of moving the actual servers outside of the US. If the email resides on servers elsewhere, then the US laws don't have much effect.
    This is pretty weak because the company's U.S. operations will almost certainly be compartmentalized within the company, and based within the U.S. They wouldn't set their network up so that U.S. consumers have to access Japanese servers for their mail anyway, that would waste a lot of intercontinental bandwidth.

    Slashdotters need to remember, U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies are basically subject to all the same commerce laws that American companies are. This is why the floating of the Microsoft goes to Canada rumour was rather obnoxiously stupid. It could have shielded them a bit, but we still could have thrown a lot of huge fines and restrictions on what they could sell down here.

  • by robjob ( 86027 ) on Thursday July 06, 2000 @01:15PM (#953571)
    Not a single terrorist has been caught by the FBI due to traditional wiretaps. According to the 1999 Wiretap Report from the Adminstrative office of the US Courts, availabe at http://http://www.epic.org/privacy/wiretap/stats/1 999-report/default.html , in 1999 the feds were granted a total of 601 wiretaps. A whopping 504 (83%) of those were for Narcotics, 61 (10%)were for racketeering, 1 was for bribery, 4 were for homicide and assault, 3 for kidnapping, 2 for theft, 2 for exortion, and 24 for other crimes. Geez, terrorism isn't on that list at all!
  • by Darth_brooks ( 180756 ) <`clipper377' `at' `gmail.com'> on Thursday July 06, 2000 @08:03AM (#953572) Homepage
    I see why the FBI would want Only US companies dealing with US traffic. If you had a ligitmate reason to wire-tap say, a kiddie porn dealer, would you as an FBI agent want to have to deal with international law in a matter that would normally be covered under simple interstate issues?

    but at the same time, the FBI should make some attempt at modernizing the current wiretapping laws to allow for the "Globalization of the communications industry" (look mommy, a herd of coroprate buzzwords) Working under laws that are as old as the telephone is an absolute joke. But this is all under the impression that they have a ligitmate reason to be wiretapping in the first place

    just .02 of devils advocating.


  • by styopa ( 58097 )
    So Virio handles 20% of the online traffic for S&P 500 report requests. I wonder if the FBI wants wire taps to prevent insider trading of some sort. I have a feeling that if a foreign company tried to buy any US company who's business was to display or allow trading of stock the FBI would be rather upset because it would interfere with their ability to prevent things like insider trading. My guess is this isn't just a, they are an internet company and if a foreign company buys them we can't snoop, but it is due to the fact that it deals with stock and therefore could possible be used for illegal stock trading which could damage the economy.

    OTOH we could listen to all of the paranoid around here and believe that there is a government conspericy to turn the US into a Orwellian 1984. Just as Y2K destroyed the world, right?

    Just a thought. One never knows with these things.
  • by Steve B ( 42864 ) on Thursday July 06, 2000 @10:18AM (#953588)
    Don't the get around that by "laundering" the surveillance -- they'll cut a deal with some foreign government to spy on Americans and in return spy on citizens of that country for them, thus circumventing each country's privacy laws?
    /.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 06, 2000 @08:37AM (#953590)
    Ok, I might be going out on a limb here, but I'm pretty sure that this is wrong. I can just picture the head of the FBI trying to convey his argument to George Washington... it might go a little something like this: FBI: Yeah, were going to have to nix this deal... it compromises National Security.... Washington: Really, how's that? FBI: Well, ya see, we can't listen in on peoples conversations, and that presents a security risk to the American people.... Washington: So what your basically saying is that innovation , and people's rights to privacy should be waived when face with a possible security risk? FBI: Basically yes... Washington: You don't see any problems with this? FBI: Not really no.... Washinton: So, if I read you right, what your saying is that your right to the ability to listen in on private communication supercedes the right of the American public to engage in private communications.... FBI: Yep. Washinton: Here we go again... Now, I don't think this is in the best interests of the American people... this is in the best interests of law enforcement. Correct me if I'm wrong by shouldn't the FBI exist to serve the best interest of the American public?
  • by carlos_benj ( 140796 ) on Thursday July 06, 2000 @08:39AM (#953591) Journal
    Everyone knows that the taps are inadmissable in court if you can't tell you are being taped. There is some obscure law that says that you have to have a small alert...like a beep to indicate you are being tapped...

    You as a private citizen or a corporation cannot 'tap' someone's line at all. You can 'tape' conversations as long as all parties know that they are being taped. Law enforcement agencies must be granted permission to 'tap' a phone line and the tapes/transcripts are admissible in court and they don't have to have the periodic beep on a 'tap'.

    "Say, boss, [beep] I dumped the bodies in the river like you [beep] said."

    "What's that beeping sound, Rocco? You developing a speech impediment?"

    Nah. I think the bad guys are smarter than that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 06, 2000 @08:59AM (#953597)
    You think any of us working at Verio would even dare answer this on the grounds of it being forwarded to our supervisors? Right. As a disclaimer, I'm speaking personally (off the record, and off the clock). There are no company secrets being released here.

    As you may or may not know, approximately a year ago, Verio purchased 56 (or so) companies around the United States and has been trying to "integrate" them into their Borg collective, so-to-speak. No harm intended.

    The buy-outs of these companies resulted in Verio handing over (to managers or higher-ups only) very VERY large sums of stock at a very VERY miniscule stock price. Therefore, these managers will be quite pissed if the NTT deal does not go through.

    I personally know of a few individuals (again, managers) who are already making plans to buy houses and other expensive investments with their stock money. Hence why the NTT deal is so important to them.

    As for employees, well, let's just say that Verio believes strongly in EBITDA (search for the word if you don't know what it is). The concept of EBITDA is "profit before expense," which basically boils down to that full-time employees are "expensive" (and affect profit severely), but that contractors are not. Verio writes off contractors as a business expense (yeah, interesting, isn't it), while full-time employees who are either fired or leaving are not being replaced. I still do not understand how a company can morally (or legally) work like this. As stated by hundreds upon hundreds of economic analysts, EBITDA DOES NOT WORK. Period.

    Onto the NTT aspect...

    To be entirely honest, I met personally with the two Japanese individuals who originally proposed the NTT-Verio deal be done. I have to say that both of these individuals are EXTREMELY friendly, and they respect their employees greatly. Employees in Japan are NOT expendible, and both of these individuals made it very clear to myself that without employees the company wouldn't be anything at all. Verio, however, takes the entire opposite approach.

    So, honestly, as an employee, the NTT deal means nothing. We get nothing out of it; our management doesn't change, we don't get raises, we don't get better benefits (or worse benefits). Nothing changes.

    I'd love to work for NTT (in Japan) though. They have a lot of respect, not to mention (something any geek will appreciate) last year they spent over 3 billion (yes, billion) on just R&D. That's pretty damn cool.

    But... if you're a manager, you'll be seeing the word "PREMIUMS" all over the inside of your eyelids while sleeping.

    So, back to the issue of stock. That's what this whole thing is all about. It seems the Slashdot goons are unable to focus on what the real point of government involvement is about -- it's not about wiretapping, it's simply about penis length.

    The US government is "scared" that Japan would be able to invest in American stock (Verio), but that Americans would not be able to invest in Japanese stock (NTT).

    Like I said, it's a penis war. Leave it to America to be excessively paranoid.

    Leave it to Slashdot to blow it out of preportion and focus on the wrong aspect of the merger.

    Just my $0.02.

  • CALEA stands for Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act. You can get more information on the FBI website [fbi.gov]. You can also get lots of links by doing a simple google search [google.com].
    ---
  • How exactly does the FBI expect to tap an OC-192?
    (or OC-48 or OC-3 for that matter)? This has
    to be total BS.

    They are probably worried about the reverse
    problem, i.e. NTT sniffing packets too and from
    US Government servers and networks.
  • by isaac ( 2852 ) on Thursday July 06, 2000 @09:03AM (#953600)
    Interestingly enough the Japanese constitution, drawn up after its surrender at the end of WWII by the Allies (i.e. the United States) prohibit the Japanese government any form of wiretapping.

    Article 21 [ntt.com] of the Japanese Constitution [ntt.com] does seem on its face to prohibit wiretapping, at least by the government. However, NTT is arguably not part of the Japanese gov't and not subject to contitutional restrictions.

    Remember that most large-scale Japanese corporations operate in the keiretsu [utoronto.ca] system, where affiliated companies pass information, arrange financing, and generally cut deals with each other.

    Also remember that we're speculating about NTT's actions in the USA, outside the real of Japanese constitutional protections. It's well known that the USA taps everyone it can outside its borders, thought this would be illegal at home.

    -Isaac

  • by Steve B ( 42864 ) on Thursday July 06, 2000 @08:09AM (#953604)
    This tends to support my position that (JonKatz's blather about the "Corporate Republic" notwithstanding), the tension between Megacorp and State is likely to have the same beneficial effect as the medieval tension between Church and Crown. The fact that neither side has a particularly appealing agenda is less important than the existence of two (or more) great powers making life difficult for one another.
    /.
  • The fact that the FBI seem so worried about this sort of thing suggests that telephoine tapping is extremely useful, and really quite common.

    Since its so well known that suspected criminals phones are tapped, why do criminals communicate by phone at all, when "Meet me at" type conversations and runners would be so much more secure.
  • This situation highlights the need for users to be more aware of personal privacy, encryption, etc... I'm perfectly fine having the government attempting to eavesdrop on the Internet. Most of the stuff I do online would never in a million years interest the FBI/CIA/NSA. Anything that I do want to keep private (note this is not synonymous with illegal) I use PGP for. If people think we're going to get the government to drop their surveillance of the general populace, they need to put their head back in the sand. I can see the both sides of the issue -- privacy vs. government protection/national security. The govt ought to just slap a stipulation on the sale and be done with it. End user awareness and education is the key to this situation, not moaning and anger over the government's eavesdropping.
  • a) Well, first of all security agencies wiretap.
    It is normal and necessary, there are quite real
    investigational needs that have to be fulfilled.
    In a better world where nobody would do anything
    illegal this would not be needed, but in our
    crappy little universe this is a necessity.

    b) US jurisdiction only covers US based servers,
    services etc. So in case of quite legitimate need
    for wiretapping they may not be able to get
    access due to services being provided abroad.

    c) This also means that those abroad may have
    easier access wiretapping traffic here -
    legitimate security concern even among
    best of friends in our world.

    Anyhow, think about this - when was the last
    time YOU had anything on the wire that may
    be of interest to any government agency,
    really now? Nobody gives a damn about us and
    our little lives..get on with it..
  • I wish more people here had as much sense in their heads as you appear to. For some reason, the Slashdot crowd seems to be overly paranoid about things like this. Too much X-Files, guys. Calm down.

    --

  • My stepfather worked in SIGINT in the NSA in Germany in the 80s and early 90s, and he's told me many stories about being hot on the trail of something big and then having to end the tap or transmission interception immediately because an American citizen came on the line. From what he says, the NSA really does take Executive Order 12333 very seriously. No matter how important the information was that they were receiving, if an American came on the line, they had to shut down the tap.

    --

  • by anticypher ( 48312 ) <anticypher@gm a i l .com> on Thursday July 06, 2000 @10:21AM (#953619) Homepage
    I regularly monitor OC-3,12&48 traffic. Not all of it, but the parts causing trouble. Sometimes the streams are ATM carrying internet traffic, sometimes the streams are DS0s carrying voice. If I were to switch a copy of a DS0 PVC to a voice card, I can listen to someone's conversation. When I copy an ATM stream to a separate port, I can monitor all that data traffic without any interruption.

    But this capability exists only at a few critical junctions, where we need to debug our streams. It doesn't exist at all points in the network, that would be too expensive to implement.

    The CALEA (US) and RIP (UK) laws are trying to force service providers and telephone companies to install additional switches at key points, which only law enforcement could control. This would allow them to monitor any traffic they wanted to, without having to bother us technical people to take a few minutes to copy a stream to a monitoring port for them. We might ask to see a valid court order or something :-)

    The problem from my point of view is that we have a hard enough time keeping the whole system running without having law enforcement controlling one link in the chain. We have problems on a daily basis, and we can do anything necessary to any piece of equipment to restore service. If we had to coordinate with an FBI/MI5 agent before tracing a faulty circuit, outages would go from a few minutes to a few days. Finger pointing would become commonplace.

    the AC
  • Are you insane? What could be more right-wing-conservative nutty than stomping all over freedom in the name of some amorphous questionable wiretapping concerns?....

    This is a flat-out admission by the FBI that they believe that the US owns and controls the Internet

    I have to disagree with the assumptions you seem to be making. I don't see this as an issue of control (not that there aren't some issues there) but to enable the FBI to investigate criminal activity. Several people have mistakenly seen this as an attempt to control or prevent certain activities. Law enforcement agencies don't actually prevent crimes any more than fire departments prevent fires. Both respond after the fact. We get lulled into a belief that 'the system' will keep the bad guys from doing their bad deeds to us. This despite the evening news and maxims like, "There's never a cop around when you need one." It's the old idea that those sorts of things happen to other people.

    I do think, as others have pointed out, that there may also be concern with regard to industrial espionage.

  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Thursday July 06, 2000 @09:05AM (#953623) Homepage Journal

    Interestingly enough the Japanese constitution, drawn up after its surrender at the end of WWII by the Allies (i.e. the United States) prohibit the Japanese government any form of wiretapping.

    Especially interesting since Japan has not fallen into ruins from not being able to tap communications. Yet we (in the U.S.) are regularly told how critical wiretaps are to law enforcement.

  • Okay, let's think about this.

    For starters, this is about whether they'll have the capability, not the legal right, to tap. Legally they still need authorization.

    With that in mind, lets look at a few cases to see if there's cause for alarm.

    First case, say you're talking dirty to your girlfriend on your phone or having cybersex with some 40 year-old-guy in France, you probably don't want anyone tapping your line. You want your right to privacy. Understandable. You're not doing anything illegal, but it's potentially embarassing.

    Well first of all, admit that you've already lost. Unless you are amazingly proficient and running a high security system and encrypting all your network traffic, somebody determined WILL be able to read your conversations. Be it a script kiddie or someone at NSA, if you're using a large network, somebody can compromise it. No law for the FBI is going to change that.

    Having gotten over that, realize that the FBI is the least of your worries. The FBI doesn't care about your girlfriend, and they're not going to publish transcripts of you and the French guy. If you have anything to worry about it's your fellow citizens who are probably right now expressing concern over the FBI being able to tap them.

    Second case, you're doing something minorly illegal. Warez, mp3s, fetching porn when you're not 18, whatever. Again, the FBI really doesn't care. They're not going to routinely tap random lines in the hopes of catching people like you, then arrest you based on monitored net traffic. It's way too much of a legal hassle to get approval (try going to a judge saying "we want to tap his line because the stuff we already got off his tapped line is really incriminating") and go through all the requisite paperwork to bring in these extremely minor criminals.

    Third and final case. You're doing something REALLY not-kosher. You're a major kiddie-porn trafficker (the boogey-man of our day, like the 2000 internet equivalent of Nazis) or major Mafia or a drug lord or you're planning to blow up a building. Yes, be afraid. The FBI will have access to your net traffic. They will use that access, they will pay close attention.

    However, if you're organized, like Mafia or drug lords, you're probably already encrypting the hell out of your traffic anyway, so odds are the FBI isn't going to be able to crack it easily.

    So that pretty much narrows the list of people who should really be worried by this down to:
    Kiddie-porn traffickers
    Terrorists

    And I doubt you'll find much sympathy if you're one of those.
  • What? Where does stuff like this come from? Most states have laws that require that when a private citizens records their own phone conversations the recorder should beep periodically to remind the other party that they are being taped. However, no such requirement exists for a law enforcement wiretap. I don't think the FBI would worry about wiretaps very much if they had to announce them in advance to the suspects. I can't imagine that they would be very effective if they told the crooks when they were tapping them. Crooks may not be the smartest bunch, but they are able to function at some level.

    Now, there are requirements that they inform people after the fact that they have been recorded by a wiretap. But, this can happen many months after the call itself. I don't know how careful they are about actually doing this, however. After all, if you didn't know you were tapped in the first place, you wouldn't know that you hadn't been informed.
  • by dattaway ( 3088 ) on Thursday July 06, 2000 @09:09AM (#953630) Homepage Journal
    From the FBI link:

    CALEA . . . is to preserve law enforcement's ability to conduct lawfully-authorized electronic
    surveillance . . .


    I like how the law authorizes themselves power when they feel the need for it. The quote continued to disclaim thier reach of power with:

    the public's right to privacy

    How is an individual supposed to have privacy against a resourceful automated electronic self authorizing law body with immense resources including a wide range usage of deadly force and property seizure such as the FBI.

    A person's house could be the next Waco if that individual might seem to object thier methods of questioning his existance.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 06, 2000 @09:11AM (#953631)
    "Also, the Japanese do not have an army, national defense is provided, at a fee, by the United States."

    Semantics aside, the JDF (Japanese Defense Force) is an army/navy/airforce.

    One of the spookiest moments in recent history occured when, on the same day, a German Panzer division rolled into Kosovo as Japanese warships chased a North Korean patrol boat out of japanese waters. And by warships I mean full up guided missle frigates not patrol boats. The warmacht and the IJN (although they aren't called that anymore) back in action.

  • I completely agree that encryption should be use widely.

    Unfortunately, our existing software infrastructure still makes this difficult. Keeping cryptography out of standard software (as opposed to out of terrorist hands) was likely the primary reason for all the shenanigans that the administration and intelligence community engaged in.

    For example, I tried using an encrypted file system on my Linux laptop, and it took several hours (and I'm fairly familiar with recompiling the kernel, even modifying it). The stuff gets distributed in too many different pieces, the documentation is somewhat confusing, etc.

    So, ask your favorite software authors and distributors to support and include cryptography in their distributions, including standard Linux distributions and the kernel. Note that a single "secure" distribution of Linux isn't sufficient, because it's an obvious place for Trojan horses.

  • Yeah, but still: If the FBI doesn't have the right to tap the phones of people like Martin Luther King [umd.edu] and Judi Bari [judibari.org], no right-minded government would be able to sleep soundly.

    BTW: The intelligent terrorists will make misleading comments in their phone calls (Think Spock in Wrath of Kahn).

    There's a second (less obvious?)issue in this purchase: Industrial espionage. I don't think that it's a big shock that the company they're worried about is serving "more than 20 percent of the companies on Standard & Poor's 500". I would guess that the FBI figures that it's easier to prosecute people for supporting industrial espionage if they're US nationals.

    Yes, I did it! I stole Colonel Sanders' secret recipe for Hiroshima chicken. But you just
    try and prosecute me in Tokoyo ... Pig-san!
    Of course if the converse happens, the last thing you'd want is to have to send the poor bugger who programmed the router back to Tokoyo.
    `ø,,ø`ø,,ø
  • by scott@b ( 124781 ) on Thursday July 06, 2000 @08:12AM (#953638)
    The FBI and other LEAs are worried because of the potential of moving the actual servers outside of the US. If the email resides on servers elsewhere, then the US laws don't have much effect.

    A LEA could get "taps" on the dial-up or other connection points, but it makes it much tougher to snag that email as the monitored person could dial in from anywhere to any connection point to get their mail. The FBI much rather be able to have the server capture all mail traffic, so they have only one place to go.

    This general concern holds for other telecommunications providers. CALEA is the requirements for providing access to telephone, paging, two-way radio, and cell phone systems for "tapping" by law enforcement agencies.

    With fines of up to 10K $US per day to service providers who can not provide a CALEA port when served with a tap request, the government is serious about being able to monitor all communications of someone they are investigating. Moving the servers of a US provider outside of the US makes it harder to use that hammer.

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