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US Gov't Assisted Iranian Gov't Mobile Wiretaps

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the good-for-the-goose dept.

Encryption 161

bdsesq sent in a story on Ars Technica highlighting how the US government's drive for security back doors has enabled the Iranian government to spy on its citizens. "For instance, TKTK was lambasted last year for selling telecom equipment to Iran that included the ability to wiretap mobile phones at will. Lost in that uproar was the fact that sophisticated wiretapping capabilities became standard issue for technology thanks to the US government's CALEA rules that require all phone systems, and now broadband systems, to include these capabilities."

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161 comments

Wait, what ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33727884)

WTF ?

Re:Wait, what ? (4, Informative)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#33727990)

The title is very misleading ... it should read "Iranian Gov Uses Telecom Backdoors Required By US Gov"

Re:Wait, what ? (4, Insightful)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728092)

It's not misleading; it's the headline's purpose to get straight to the author's point, and the point is that the unintended consequence of our domestic policies has been to enable authoritarian regimes to enforce policies of their own.

Re:Wait, what ? (3, Interesting)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728170)

One man's misleading headline is another man's truth. Interesting, that.

Re:Wait, what ? (5, Insightful)

grcumb (781340) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728488)

It's not misleading; it's the headline's purpose to get straight to the author's point, and the point is that the unintended consequence of our domestic policies has been to enable authoritarian regimes to enforce policies of their own.

To further refine your point: At the core of this lies the implication that, because of such policies, there is very little to separate us from authoritarian regimes. It's a quantum distance, to be sure, in the sense that although it's very small it would require something fundamental to change. But the distance between where we are today and a digital version of the Alien and Sedition Acts [wikipedia.org] is short enough to make many people uncomfortable.

One point that irks me, though, is the contention that we're only now seeing this link. That, frankly, is bullshit.

The head of GCHQ (Britain's SigInt agency) under Tony Blair wrote an entire book [amazon.co.uk] on the topic last year. I myself wrote a series [imagicity.com] of three [imagicity.com] columns [imagicity.com] on the topic, all of them dealing with the diminishing gap between authoritarian policies and those of more democratic nations. Forgive me while I quote at some length...

Nokia-Siemens, defending its role in the creation of a centralised mobile telecommunications network, stated recently [nokiasiemensnetworks.com] that:

In most countries around the world, including all EU member states and the U.S., telecommunications networks are legally required to have the capability for Lawful Intercept and this is also the case in Iran. Lawful Intercept is specified in standards defined by ETSI (European Telecommunications Standards Institute) and the 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project).

Yes, decentralised communications come at a cost. They make surveillance efforts of all kinds more difficult. The two competing questions we need to ask ourselves are:

  1. How far are we willing to compromise ourselves in the pursuit of state security?
  2. How much are we willing to compromise state surveillance capability in order to protect our own freedom to communicate?

These are knotty issues with complex and often subtle ramifications on society. They demand a level of public engagement on the principle - and more importantly, the practice - of free speech that we haven't seen since the Red Scare of the 1950s.

Technology feels like magic to most of us. We don't - and don't want to - to know how our communications come about. We just want them to happen.

But in order for them to happen, we must inform - and arm - ourselves with the knowledge, understanding, law and policies that make it possible. Facile observations like Manjoo's do little if anything to support such an effort.

The Revolution will indeed be digitised, but only if we want it enough.

Precedents (1)

handy_vandal (606174) | more than 3 years ago | (#33729768)

"One point that irks me, though, is the contention that we're only now seeing this link. That, frankly, is bullshit."

Agreed. We should not be surprised: the general principle that "authority tends to breed more authority" is an old story.

Eisenhower warned us about the military-industrial complex.

Lincoln warned us about the banking/corporate complex and its corrosive effects on the Republic.

Earlier, we had the Alien and Sedition Acts, as you mentioned.

And of course there's that old saw: "Absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely."

Re:Wait, what ? (2, Insightful)

dieth (951868) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728618)

I'd say it's one authoritarian regime, sharing with another authoritarian regime. No real difference, both governments are using it to illicitly spy on you.

Re:Wait, what ? (1, Offtopic)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 3 years ago | (#33729262)

I'd say it's one authoritarian regime, sharing with another authoritarian regime.

No real difference, both governments are using it to illicitly spy on you.

Yeah, because those constitutionally mandated warrants that the US government uses are one of the most egregious abuses of power ever devised. No real difference at all.

Re:Wait, what ? (4, Interesting)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728656)

Oh, awesome. So I guess any day now I should see an article titled "Albert Einstein assisted North Korea in acquiring Nuclear Weapons", or "Movie Industry instrumental in helping Oppressive Regimes conduct surveillance of dissidents".

Re:Wait, what ? (2, Informative)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 3 years ago | (#33729284)

Well, the Einstein one maybe not, but RIAA aiding opressive regiemes seems to be the general consensus around here.

Re:Wait, what ? (1, Flamebait)

BlueStrat (756137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33729174)

It's not misleading; it's the headline's purpose to get straight to the author's point, and the point is that the unintended consequence of our domestic policies has been to enable authoritarian regimes to enforce policies of their own.

I'm not so sure it's "unintended".

After all, President Obama endorses and co-sponsors, through Organizing For America, the upcoming 10/2 rally at the Mall in D.C. which has some very interesting official co-sponsors.

You can find out more about the rally at the Young Communist League USA website [yclusa.org] .

The rally is also endorsed by other freedom-loving organizations such as the New Black Panther Party, the Democratic Socialists of America, the International Socialist Organization, the War Resisters League, the SEIU, the AFL-CIO, La Raza, and the American Muslim Association of North America, whose leader Sofian Abdelaziz Zakkout was fired this summer by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights for his ties to Hamas and David Duke.

Just the kind of people I'd trust to ensure freedom and justice.

I hope that helps.

Strat

Re:Wait, what ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33729490)

Enabling != assisting, douchehat.

This. (1, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#33727904)

This is the biggest reason why we fight against greater wiretap rules in the U.S. It's not that we don't trust our government, but rather that we can't trust all governments, and we're talking about world standards here. If we allow the U.S. government to put in rules that allow it to spy on Iranian citizens, due to the nature of the technology, we're also allowing Iran's government to spy on U.S. citizens. No matter how you look at it, it's pretty hard to argue that this is a good thing.

Re:This. (5, Insightful)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 3 years ago | (#33727984)

"It's not that we don't trust our government"

That's wrong. I don't trust any government with that kind of power. It will be abused, and I'll do everything in my power (what little I have) to prevent them from getting such a power.

Re:This. (5, Insightful)

Anonymusing (1450747) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728026)

This is the biggest reason why we fight against greater wiretap rules in the U.S.

Ummm... no. The biggest reason we fight wiretaps is because they are wrong.

Letting the tech get into the hands of other governments is a far, far secondary reason. Maybe tertiary...quaternary... hexadenary... it's way down the list, anyway.

Re:This. (3, Interesting)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728390)

This is the biggest reason why we fight against greater wiretap rules in the U.S. It's not that we don't trust our government

Uh, no, I'm pretty sure it's actually because the 4th amendment makes what the government has been doing illegal. A side-effect of that is that other governments also don't get to use the loopholes our government would like, but I'm not fighting for their rights, I'm fighting for mine.

Re:This. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33728560)

It's not illegal. Remember the government has the Commerce Clause on their side which negates any and all perceived rights we may have. And even if the Commerce Clause fails they always have the general welfare and probable cause to justify anything they do. Welcome to the Police State of America.

Re:This. (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728892)

Uh, no, I'm pretty sure it's actually because the 4th amendment makes what the government has been doing illegal.

Actually it's because the courts read the word "reasonable" very narrowly, and insists on deciding it before the fact, otherwise what the government had done (but is not now doing) would have been legal.

Re:This. (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728924)

(but is not now doing)

Really? You actually believe that?

Re:This. (0, Troll)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728984)

I believe the Bush administration did not use the FISA court to get warrants and expected to win if challenged.

I believe the Obama administration is using the FISA court. Meanwhile his justice department is also acting as defendant in the challenge to the Bush administration's abuse of wiretaps.

If you believe anything different, produce evidence. Otherwise, your paranoia is unfounded.

Re:This. (2, Informative)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 3 years ago | (#33729128)

You want evidence that Obama is not using the FISA court? How about evidence that he is? Feel free to find something newer than this:

http://utdocuments.blogspot.com/2008/07/obamas-new-statement-on-fisa.html [blogspot.com]

Obama's statement only addressed the objections to the telecom immunity provisions of the bill, while ignoring the objections to the (at least) equally pernicious new warrantless eavesdropping powers the bill authorizes.

The new FISA bill that Obama supports vests new categories of warrantless eavesdropping powers in the President (.pdf), and allows the Government, for the first time, to tap physically into U.S. telecommunications networks inside our country with no individual warrant requirement. To claim that this new bill creates "an independent monitor [to] watch the watchers to prevent abuses and to protect the civil liberties of the American people" is truly misleading, since the new FISA bill actually does the opposite -- it frees the Government from exactly that monitoring in all sorts of broad categories.

Re:This. (0, Flamebait)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33729480)

Okay, first, that link you link is a journalist's opinion rhetorically questioning Obama's sincerity. Cry me a fishpond. Second, it's dated in 2008, before Obama was the nominee, much less the President.

I asked for evidence that Obama is illegally wiretapping people, not evidence that people will call him a liar. Try again.

Re:This. (4, Insightful)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728506)

Ummm... no. The biggest reason we fight wiretaps is because they are wrong.

I, sir, see your "ummm...no" and raise you another "ummm...no".

Wiretaps, used with proper judicial oversight, for legitimate law-enforcement purposes, are not wrong. If a wiretap provides the proof that a violent criminal actually committed the crime for which they are being charged, then that is a good thing. The problem exists when a government -- any government -- uses wiretaps for illegitimate purposes. For example, to spy on the population in general (for example, the NSA wiretapping), to maintain a party in power against the populace's wishes (Iran), or without receiving the proper warrants to listen in on private conversations (NSL's).

While I think O.P. might be going a bit far to say, "It's not that we don't trust our government..." because I don't trust any government with unchecked power. However, you come off sounding like either a complete wacko or a naive 12-year old when you make a blanket statement like that. There is precious little in the world that's *THAT* black and white.

Re:This. (0)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728868)

If a wiretap provides the proof that a violent criminal actually committed the crime for which they are being charged, then that is a good thing.

not so fast, buddy. don't you want to look at the whole picture?

suppose that 'criminal' is really on the right and the government is wrong?

can't happen?

think back 200+ years ago. shoe was on the other foot.

invasion of privacy is a 'means to an end' thing and if you are ok with means-justifies-ends then fine, but don't try to tell us that its perfectly fine AS LONG AS the gov thinks its a 'bad enough case'.

this brings judgement into it and that's exactly what we have grown to DISTRUST. powerful people making 'judgement calls' and saying 'its ok to tap this guys wire, he did really bad things!'

once you start splitting hairs and deciding on morality like that, where does it end? do you really trust people to 'use judgement' when they have fouled it up time and time again?

I say: no tapping. EVER. not ever. not for any reason.

nice simple way to run things and there are no complications. if the 'bad guy' can't be caught using above-board means, maybe you need to try harder?

Re:This. (2, Insightful)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 3 years ago | (#33729164)

if the 'bad guy' can't be caught using above-board means, maybe you need to try harder?

So you want to live in a society run by organized crime and corrupt corporations? How do you prove bribery without wiretaps or other similar methods? You allow a power vacuum and someone will fill it in, the government is usually the lesser of many evils.

Re:This. (5, Insightful)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 3 years ago | (#33729520)

Let's take your "whole picture" one step farther, then. Is surveillance (i.e., tailing you, watching you from a stake-out) okay? What happens if a cop just happens to be there when you commit a crime?

Let's go another direction. You say wiretapping is unethical. Is it unethical to kill someone? Then, what about having armed police officers? In the U.S., your average cop is armed. As another /.'er in the U.K. (IIRC) pointed out the other day, in other parts of the world, only the S.W.A.T./C.E.R.T./whatever-it-was-he-called-them units are armed. In either case, there is a branch of LEOs that is equipped and authorized to use deadly force. Do you propose to disarm the police forces? Okay, what about the military? Or are you arguing that wiretaps are evil, but deadly force is okay?

"The end justifies the means" is an argument for doing something unethical for the "Greater Good." Your argument presupposes that wiretaps are unethical. I disagree. Rather, I think it is a compromise that recognizes the fact that there are grey areas. That compromise is necessary because the alternative is anarchy. And if you think that's a viable option ("heh, heh...no one tellin' *me* what to do!"), you might want to look at what's been happening in places like Uganda [invisiblechildren.com] for the last thirty years.

Re:This. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33728926)

There are people out there you don't trust, that's why you lock your doors at night. Now when those people put on other clothes and throw up fancy titles that still doesn't change. Wiretaps are the same as breaking your door down and strip searching you in the night. Hey maybe you don't see that fly on the wall spying at you, don't see it as good as others do but to me it just buzzes and lands on my nose and pisses lot of us off with its influence giving diseases much so similar to the moral corruptness of prying into other peoples personal safety.

Re:This. (1)

Local ID10T (790134) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728942)

Wiretaps, used with proper judicial oversight, for legitimate law-enforcement purposes, are not wrong. If a wiretap provides the proof that a violent criminal actually committed the crime for which they are being charged, then that is a good thing.

Your argument is a case of the ends justifying the means, and the law agrees with you - I do not. I would argue that wiretaps are an invasion of privacy and are wrong no matter the reason. The bottom line is that compromising privacy is a slippery slope that can lead to unintended consequences, as this article shows.

Re:This. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33729240)

Society is made of slippery slopes, there is nothing else. It's that way because people are damn good at exploiting any loopholes and absolutes are perfect at creating those.

The ends justify the means because the alternative is much worse. Weaken the government enough and some entity with even less oversight will will the gaps (corrupt corporations, organized crime, religious fanatics, etc.). Granted, too much power and it goes downhill but the government can be kept at the right level somewhat.

Re:This. (1)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 3 years ago | (#33729644)

Look, I'm every bit as paranoid of the government as any other tin-foil hat /.'er. Just look at my comment history if you want proof of that. However, even I understand that governments have to have the ability to track down and punish criminals, because the alternative is even worse. IMHO, the Founding Fathers did a pretty good job of setting up a system that recognizes the cold, hard facts of living in the real world (searches, seizures, warrants, etc.) while protecting the populace from abuse (judicial oversight, separation of powers). Unfortunately, they didn't set term limits, and "We the People" have gotten complacent and lazy in the last 200 years. I fear we are about to get a rude awakening...

Re:This. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33728632)

Ummm... no. The biggest reason we fight wiretaps is because they are wrong.

But your government doesn't think it's wrong ("It's for the children to fight the turrists!"), so that argument falls flat.

The way to get the point across to a government official is to make it at the lobbyist level: Dear Politicians: these CALEA-mandated backdoors are causing public embarassment for us when we try to sell the product to international clients, and more importantly, they're costing us sales. If America legalized secure cryptographic communication, and leaned on other states to legalize secure communications, TKTK, Cisco, Juniper, and others could have the same sort of PR benefits (and competitive advantages) that those flappy-headed Canucks at RIMM get when selling their enterprise-level gear.

Right and wrong doesn't matter. Profitable and unprofitable matter. Either legalize secure crypto so we can start building things our customers want, rather than backdoors that serve only to benefit non-American governments at the expense of our clients' security. Or forget about the next campaign donation.

Re:This. (1)

Hadji (74589) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728038)

You seem to be implying that in the US, we do trust our government, and you seem to be assuming that the US government will not use this technology to spy on its own citizens. Both are false.

What keeps our government from being like those of certain other countries is not that it's trustworthy, but that the different branches of government can hold each other in check, and that we as citizens have certain rights to hold each branch in check. When people imply that we can, do, or should trust our government, they're missing the point.

Re:This. (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#33729022)

Nobody fully trusts any government. That's not really the point. There are governments that we trust more or less than others. I generally trust the U.S. government to mostly do something sane at least 75% of the time. I generally trust the Iranian government to do something sane at least 7.5% of the time. And therein was the point. It's not that we're a bunch of nutjobs who distrust the government and think that they're all out to get us and will abuse wiretapping authority frequently. It's that if the power exists, it will be abused, inevitably, by someone, against someone.

In the end, it doesn't matter whether the abuser is a rogue element in our government who isn't playing by the rules or a foreign government who doesn't have those rules in the first place. The result is the same. I just have a lot more faith that if it gets abused by some part of the U.S. government, there's at least some reasonable chance that they will eventually get caught and nailed to a wall over it.

Re:This. (0, Flamebait)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728582)

I, for one could care less if the Iranian government spies on me as long as we bomb them back beyond the stone age and turn that garbage pile into a lake.

Re:This. (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728870)

Or maybe we should recognize that our government is the good guys and can help us change the Iranian government, because tapping people's phones is probably one of the least egregious things Ahmadinejad and Khameini are doing.

Re:This. (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#33729352)

Au contraire. You're mistakenly assuming that wiretaps are an end unto themselves. In fact, they are a means to an end, and those ends are often pretty horrible, up to and including executions. Since those executions would not have occurred without the wiretaps, the wiretaps are, in effect, about as egregious as you can get.

Put another way, a bolt fails on a tricycle because of poor manufacturing. The wheel falls off. A second bold fails on a bridge because of poor manufacturing. A school bus falls off. The first bolt manufacturing error was a minor infraction. The second, due to its eventual consequences, was a horrible act.

Excellent misleading headline, 5/5 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33727916)

And it's a misleading headline I'm OK with, honestly. It's more of a case of unintended consequences, but if they're actively fighting for the same type of BS here under claims that they just won't use it like that, I'm willing to look the other way.

Meh (2, Insightful)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 3 years ago | (#33727926)

America, eventually everything is our fault. What's next? Are we going to get blamed for fast food? The Olsen twins? NBC 'Must See' TV?

Re:Meh (4, Funny)

EdZ (755139) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728200)

Those were all you guys?! Man, dick move America.

Re:Meh (1)

game kid (805301) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728302)

Well, it does allow for an interesting scenario: The Olsen Twins choke on fast food because they were kept too intrigued (or drowsy) by 'Must See' TV to wash it down as they ate, and NBC and the food guys then permanently shut down their businesses in tribute to the ex-Michelle Tanners.

Re:Meh (1)

MaskedSlacker (911878) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728934)

Well, it does allow for an interesting scenario: The Olsen Twins choke on fast food because they were kept too intrigued (or drowsy) by 'Must See' TV to wash it down as they ate, and NBC and the food guys then permanently shut down their businesses in tribute to the ex-Michelle Tanners.

And it was as if millions of voices suddenly cried out for joy, and were never silenced.

Re:Meh (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728252)

If you really want to see Europeans get pissed off, just try to claim that an American invented ANYTHING.

Re:Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33729102)

Americans do like to claim inventions that were not made in the US, like the airplane or the computer.

Re:Meh (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#33729360)

That's not true. They'll let you have the invention of the nuclear bomb, because then they can blame you for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Although they'll be quick to point out that you couldn't have done it it without "Zionist scientists".

Re:Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33729512)

Don't forget the gas chamber, agent orange, and Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

Re:Meh (2, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728266)

I'm pretty sure Lindsay Lohan is all our fault too. Fortunately, in the case of Justin Bieber, we can always blame Canada!

Re:Meh (2, Funny)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#33729368)

I'm pretty sure Lindsay Lohan is all our fault too. Fortunately, in the case of Justin Bieber, we can always blame Canada!

No way! He's a result of your "culture"! It's not our fault that you Americans have completely saturated our entertainment networks in order to brainwash our children!

Re:Meh (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33728348)

What's next? Are we going to get blamed for fast food? The Olsen twins? NBC 'Must See' TV?

I don't know about being blamed for everything, the USA can be blamed for quite a few nasty things, you don't get to be a superpower without doing nasty things, it comes with the territory and so does being blamed for it. As for the rest of your comment: yes, yes and yes.

Double Standard (5, Insightful)

MetalliQaZ (539913) | more than 3 years ago | (#33727932)

Can you believe that the story features alarming reactions to Iran being able to spy on its citizens, without worrying that the US is doing the same thing. There is an implication with this /. post that the technology wasn't dangerous until it fell into Iran's hands. The US isn't guilty of enabling Iran. The US is guilty of intrusive policy.

-d

Re:Double Standard (4, Insightful)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 3 years ago | (#33727976)

The US isn't guilty of enabling Iran. The US is guilty of intrusive policy.

No, it's actually guilty of both. Iran wouldn't have this capability without the intrusive policy pushed by the government.

Re:Double Standard (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33728022)

This.

US is the biggest market, and if it demands spy equipment in telecom hardware, all telecom hardware will have spy capabilities.

Re:Double Standard (3, Informative)

MetalliQaZ (539913) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728300)

Why stop at wiretapping equipment? Without the efforts of the US, Iran wouldn't have F-14 Tomcats either.

Re:Double Standard (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33727996)

This is by far the FUNNIEST article to be posted on here for precisely that reason.

I can't wait to read the posts decrying the Iranian government and espousing Islamaphobia (very popular now, just like anti-Semitism a few decades ago).

Re:Double Standard (1)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728462)

Can you believe that the story features alarming reactions to Iran being able to spy on its citizens, without worrying that the US is doing the same thing.

Of course I can. This country focuses on things like should we extend tax breaks, and for whom, and should the government require health care. No one seems to care that the NSA is still wiretapping phones without a warrant. I especially like how the tea partiers carry around signs decrying "big government", and their examples of that are things like health care. Those people don't care that their phones are being monitored without court supervision. So apparently they don't care much for the separation of powers which is why a court warrant is required for these things, and they also don't care that the government can tap any phone with zero oversight. Those things are fine, but when we start talking about health care then everyone starts bitching about "big government".

Kind of frustrating to watch, actually.

Re:Double Standard (2, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728842)

correction: its not 'the US' its ANY powerful country that has the will and means to 'monitor' its citizens.

any country. name one (seriously) that you think is above this.

I really can't name a single tech-aware country that has not tried or succeeded in tapping its general population to whatever extent it feels necessary.

this is not a bush thing or obama thing. its a HUMAN NATURE thing and has always been this way. the only thing new is that we have the tech means to easily invade each others' privacy. we ALWAYS were happy to do that (mankind) but now we can actually do it and get away with it.

nothing american about this. human.

Unfair to just put the blame on the US (4, Insightful)

linumax (910946) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728030)

I'm Iranian and I'm very pissed off about the regime abusing the the technology, however, I can't put all the blame on the US government. A lot of the tracking/wiretapping tech (well, virtually any technology) have dual uses. For example, if a family member of mine gets kidnapped I'd like the police to be able to locate him/her easily by tracking a cellphone. Or if a bunch of suspects are doing something against the law and there's justified need to tap their phones and/or internet I'd like the police to be able to obtain a warrant and have access to the technology to do their job. So it's not funding the development of technology or requiring it's inclusion in the products that is the problem.

Now, if the US had the ability to prevent the regime from accessing the tech and they didn't do anything about it, well, that's not really nice.

Re:Unfair to just put the blame on the US (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728150)

Not to mention removing increased capabilities prior to foreign sale is common practice for a lot of hardware. Ultimately, the government has zero culpability here. The fault lies squarely with the manufacturers of the equipment. Besides, even if it was an add on feature, chances are countries like Iran would pay the up charge.

There are only two solutions which would have prevented this situation. One, allow no manufacturer to sell their telcom equipment to Iran. Two, don't allow Iran to have telcom equipment.

Blaming the government for this is playing politics to play politics; and in doing say, ignores reality. Its completely based on false logic; which is where politics excels.

Re:Unfair to just put the blame on the US (3, Insightful)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728204)

The fault lies squarely with the manufacturers of the equipment.

The fault lies with the people who were forced by the US government to put backdoors into their products so that the government can spy on people? lolwut?

Re:Unfair to just put the blame on the US (2, Insightful)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728360)

Not at all. For that line of argument to have merit you'll first have to prove countries such as Iran, North Korea, China, almost endless list, etc., have neither the inclination or clout to establish demand for such features in the first place. Without a doubt, they absolutely do.

No matter how you look at it, this is not an US government problem. Even if the US government did not have such a mandate, I'm 100% certain there is enough interest from other governments around the world to justify such features on an up-charge and/or customization basis.

As I said, the fault squarely rests with the manufacturers. Demand for such features will always exist, ignoring the US' mandate in this regard.

Using this backward logic, assuming you drive a vehicle, are personally responsible for every vehicle related death in the world because you established demand for vehicles. After all, none of those vehicle related deaths would have occurred if it were not for your demand creating the market in the first place. Ultimately it boils down to manufacturers meeting demand for a product; be it vehicles and associated deaths or telcom equipment with wiretap facilities.

So long as manufacturers are willing to meet market demand, without any consideration of implications, its all but impossible Iran wouldn't have this capability regardless.

Re:Unfair to just put the blame on the US (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728540)

Guess people don't like knowing their useless excuse to blame the government is just that - useless. Especially then they are, gasp, not to blame.

Overrated? How is a thoughtful, polite, and completely topical post which is fairly unique in its view point, over rated? Moderators need to do a much better job that this.

Re:Unfair to just put the blame on the US (1)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728630)

Blame isn't binary, despite every effort by lawyers to convince you otherwise. Your responsibility is directly proportional to the degree your action contributed to the result, no more and no less. If the US Government's actions were 25%, 33% or 50% responsible for the feature being present in the hardware exported to Iran, then the US Government should be accorded 25%, 33% or 50% of the blame respectively.

Nor is responsibility limited to immediate one-step cause-and-effect. Distance dilutes responsibility but it does not negate it. The idea that because it wasn't your hand on the trigger or your hand signing the bill means that you have no responsibility is a fallacy believed by those who prefer to shove their heads in the sand rather than acknowledge that they were wrong for what they DID do.

If there exists at least one direct chain of causes-and-effects, regardless of how long that chain is, where the absence of that chain would be sufficient to prevent the end result, ever person along that chain has some measure of responsibility for that end result. To say otherwise is simple denial of reality.

The first practical upshot is that you'd best be damn sure that something really IS wrong before pointing fingers. Now, in this case there seems little question that something is indeed very wrong. Unfortunately, since most of what is wrong was decided by democratically-elected officials, all those who democratically elected them share in the responsibility for the wrongdoing of those they elected. (The unfortunate part being that the voters don't really give a damn about who they vote for, so long as they wave the right color banner.)

Re:Unfair to just put the blame on the US (2, Insightful)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728824)

If there exists at least one direct chain of causes-and-effects, regardless of how long that chain is,

Read my other replies. Blaming the US Government is completely arbitrary. Do you seriously believe every other government in the world has wiretap facilities ONLY because of the US's mandate? Nothing could be father from the truth or more silly would you state it plain and simply. But, that's what the article and others would have us believe.

I'll happily agree the US' guilt is greater than zero, but its still so small, its not worth discussion in the least. To then create an article whereby guilt is 100%, is stupidity.

Again, as I said in my other example, using your logic, you share in guilt in every vehicle death and/or injury, assuming you drive and/or own a vehicle. You ever play baseball? You share in the guilt of everyone beaten and/or killed by a bat.

At the end of the day, we all like to blame the government for all the bad in the world, but in reality, the government is us. We really do share some of the blame. But to suggest its us and them is ignorant and abhorrent to reality.

Re:Unfair to just put the blame on the US (1)

c6gunner (950153) | more than 3 years ago | (#33729428)

I wish I had mod-points. Awesome couple of posts there, man. It's sad that I am no longer surprised when the only intelligent comment on the entire thread manages to receive a score of zero.

Re:Unfair to just put the blame on the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33728184)

See the post on double standards.

Re:Unfair to just put the blame on the US (1, Troll)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728262)

You're Iranian, and you're brainwashed by Iranian culture. Everyone knows cellphones are trackable, and this has nothing to do with backdoors. Those kidnappers are simply going to throw the cell phone out the window, or remove the batteries. You just sacrificed your rights for nothing, idiot.

Re:Unfair to just put the blame on the US (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728382)

Note to self: throw cellphone out of window next time.

Re:Unfair to just put the blame on the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33729542)

Note to self: throw cellphone out of window next time.

Uh hello? Any self respecting bad guy uses a pre-paid mobile phone these days.

Re:Unfair to just put the blame on the US (1)

linumax (910946) | more than 3 years ago | (#33729162)

Thank you for calling me idiot, brainwashed, etc. Also attacking my culture. That pretty much settles how much validity there is in your argument.

But to add up to that, you picked up on my rather weak first example and failed even to consider second one.

Also, thanks to the moderators for giving +3 insightful to a comment that includes nothing but ad-hominem and according to signature is possibly just a troll.

Re:Unfair to just put the blame on the US (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33728800)

A lot of the tracking/wiretapping tech (well, virtually any technology) have dual uses.

  • If a tool can be abused most of the time and only very seldom for used for good purposes, would you still be in favour of the tool? Wouldn't it your life be easier if you don't need to counteract the abuses all the time even you rarely don't benefit from the use?
  • if it would be a simple tool that everybody can use, maybe it would be OK. Relevant aspect here: can you use the same tool to supervise your government? If not, then it stops to be a tool and becomes an instrument used for a purpose

Why doesn't the government respect the law? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33728046)

I guess they just don't care about constitutional or human rights.

Isn't it funny how the criminals are always the poor and never the rich?

Its propaganda sir (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33728060)

http://www.hitler.org/writings/Mein_Kampf/mkv1ch06.html

everything has two sides (1)

kubitus (927806) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728230)

and everything can be used for good and bad.

Of course the US is not using their spying technology on its friends and allies! Never ever - or maybe just when its necessary?

to get the one or the other contract before the others do....

Look up whats in you router and switch firmware - maybe you too have a Trojan Boot Loader in it!

Re:everything has two sides (3, Insightful)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728640)

You've got it backwards. The US is prevented by law from using it's spying technologies to spy on it's own citizens. However, it is perfectly legal to use it to spy on British citizens, while the British government uses similar technology to spy on American citizens, and then they just trade information. Voila -- perfectly legal!

Increasingly Tyrannical Rule & Imperial Arroga (4, Insightful)

Apple Acolyte (517892) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728356)

A very interesting story. I wasn't aware of this CALEA law until I just read about it in a previous story in Slashdot, and it's very disturbing that the increasingly tyrannical rule (albeit a mostly soft tyranny for the time being) of the US Federal government and it's concomitant level of imperial arrogance has supposedly endowed an even more evil regime to further terrorize the world. If the US made Ahmadinejad's (YM"SH) life easier, government officials should be prosecuted and punished under the anti-treason provisions of the Constitution, but then again that can be said about many aspects of the US's ruling elite.

We must strenuously oppose any more encroachments on liberty and privacy, including the latest attempts by the Barack Hussein Obama regime to mandate backdoors in nearly all communication devices. This is a far more severe threat to our lives than ACTA. I can live without secular entertainment, but I don't want to live in a perpetual police state. We have to be mindful of the possibility that multi-national tyrannical forces are coordinating their efforts to bring a form of superlative form of international fascism (think 1984) in which all of humanity is shackled and enslaved.

Call me an alarmist if you wish - I am very alarmed.

Re:Increasingly Tyrannical Rule & Imperial Arr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33728458)

You are too late to be alarmed, I do call you deaf, the alarms started sounding years ago.

Re:Increasingly Tyrannical Rule & Imperial Arr (2, Informative)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728814)

I work in the 'comms' (networking) field in the bay area. I can't interview for a job that doesn't seem to *include* some form of DPI or calea side to it.

if you are using any kind of networking gear that is rackmount and more than a month's rent, chances are it has calea wiretapping 'modes' to it. or, its purchasable if you are the right kind of entity, so to speak.

there are also networking boxes that intercept the SSL transport and give users a false sense of security (ignore the mitm, that cert looks very real, doesn't it?).

I don't directly 'do' calea but if you do software or hardware and are in the networking field, you'll run into it eventually.

Re:Increasingly Tyrannical Rule & Imperial Arr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33728878)

Obama isn't Muslim and warrantless wiretapping was initiated by Bush. You douche.

In Other Crazy News, US helps Iran with Nukes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33728366)

It all started in the 1940s with a team lead by an American, Robert Oppenheimer...

Money, Guns and Lawyers (3, Insightful)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728412)

Here on Slashdot there tends to exist the mindset of "blame the shooter not the gun" and the corollary "and certainly don't blame the maker of the gun". For most civil libertarians, those are axioms: that tools are value-neutral, and you criminalize their improper use, not their mere existence or the act of manufacture. Good so far. Lifetime NRA member here. Gun-totin' agnostic clinging to the Constitution.

In this case, though, we are blaming the tool AND the user AND the manufacturer. Why is it different to blame tools collectively (governmental) compared to individually? I have my own thoughts on this, and I believe it IS different. However, it takes a couple of layers of abstraction to reach that difference (specifically, that collective actions are almost always restrictive in nature while individual actions are almost always permissive in nature, and that freedom requires that permissiveness wins over restriction in all but the most severe cases).

I'd like to believe that the reactions against the existence of CALEA are reasoned rather than reactive. When you ask someone whether they favor or oppose something, if the answer you get is a frothing hind-brain reaction, that person's opinion is instantly valueless. And if that person was on the "correct" side (strictly by chance, it would seem), it becomes that much easier to dismiss ALL people with that opinion. "Yeah, you're a jingoistic , just like all the rest. I'm not even going to listen to you."

The good guys have to be the adults.

In the land of the free ... (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728420)

everytime someone comments on something saying that 'best place to live' propaganda that people are brainwashed with in america is bullshit, some idiots cant cope up with the reality and mod the comment down, flamebait or troll, even if the comment provides examples and insights.

im wondering, what needs to happen, before someone can realize that they have been lied to.

Re:In the land of the free ... (1)

fotbr (855184) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728732)

You do realize that "best" is not synonymous with "perfect" right? And that what you value in a place to live isn't the same as what everyone else values?

Is the USA perfect? Hell no. Would I want to live anywhere else? Not really -- everywhere else that I'd even consider has more tradeoffs than I'd like.

Why gives the goverment such right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33728486)

Why does the government *require* that companies make it easy for *them* to spy on citizens, but God forbid citizens spy on the government or each other?
What makes them so special that they can dictate such things? Don't citizens deserve a bit more security and privacy than that? Why doesn't the government also require a single master key for all door locks? Why don't these cellphone manufacturers just tell the government to bugger off or enable users to independently install point to point encryption in their phones? (Can this even be done?) I resent the government being able to listen into my private conversations simply because they feel like it. I certainly have nothing to hide, but also nothing to share with our growing police state.

Grammar Police (1)

lowrydr310 (830514) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728502)

Now the FBI is proposing a similar requirement that would require online service providers, perhaps even software makers, to only offer encrypted communication unless the companies have a way to unlock the communications.

Requiring providers to only offer encrypted communications unless they have a way to decrypt them? Shouldn't that say "..to only offer encrypted communications if they provide a way to decrypt them?"

I'm just an engineer, so what do I know about grammar.

That's kind of been the point... (1)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728552)

That was kind of the point behind all of the hue and cry here on /. and elsewhere about the government's drive to have backdoors installed in everything. First, I don't trust either of the last two administrations to have the ability to listen in on any conversation -- data or voice -- any time they wish without having to get the warrants authorizing the wiretaps. Second, even if I did trust either of these administrations (which I don't, just to be clear), there is absolutely NO fricken way to guarantee that others WON'T abuse those backdoors.

It's almost funny (in a tragic kind of way) that it took an abusive regime overseas to prove the point (and much sooner than I expected, I admit).

Re:That's kind of been the point... (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#33728676)

You ain't seen nothin' yet. Just wait 'til President Hillary takes office... then it will be damn near impossible for a decent, hard-working man like Bill to get a blowjob under the table without the government finding out about it!

Old news, different sector. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33728584)

Let's see... The US exports Arms, Telecomm gear, and a host of other modern technology to intermediaries that in turn end up selling said products to entities we, the US, consider our enemies.

This isn't new, and has been going on for decades. Are the people in the US asleep, or just complacent?

Oh. I got it. Not in my backyard, right?

Re:Old news, different sector. (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 3 years ago | (#33729008)

"Let's see... The US exports Arms, Telecomm gear, and a host of other modern technology to intermediaries that in turn end up selling said products to entities we, the US, consider our enemies."

That's one way to keep tabs on them.

PROMIS (1)

handy_vandal (606174) | more than 3 years ago | (#33729802)

It's been alleged that the PROMIS [wikipedia.org] software was backdoored by American spy agencies (or somesuch) and sold abroad.

The Wikipedia article referenced above doesn't mention the backdoor allegations; you'll need to dig deeper (into less reliable sources?) for that.

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