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FCC Demands Universities Comply With Wiretap Law

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the keeping-those-dangerous-students-in-line dept.

Privacy 215

tabdelgawad writes "The New York Times reports that the FCC is requiring universities to upgrade their online systems to comply with the 1994 wiretap law, which would make it easier for law enforcement to monitor communications online. The universities are not objecting on civil rights grounds (the law requires a court order before monitoring), but on cost grounds (upgrades may cost $7 billion). But with the technology infrastructure in place, what happens if congress decides to relax court order requirements in the future 'in their fight against criminals, terrorists and spies?'"

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Nice (4, Interesting)

Jonnty (910561) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854117)

So they have to pay lots of money and reduce their civil rights completly (I don't think any privacy laws are legally binding anymore...) It's got to stop. Unless the court order remains and is completly open, which isn't going to happen, this is just not acceptable. At least I live in Britain, which hasn't got all these civil rights reducing measures...quite yet.

Re:Nice (5, Insightful)

Pantero Blanco (792776) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854219)

>>At least I live in Britain, which hasn't got all these civil rights reducing measures...quite yet. ...You're joking, right? Maybe you don't have this specific rights-reduction, but I'd say surveillance cameras all over the place and a handgun ban are pretty bad.

Re:Nice (3, Funny)

dfjunior (774213) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854567)

surveillance cameras all over the place and a handgun ban

Welcome to Chicago, my friend

Re:Nice (0, Flamebait)

Jonnty (910561) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854581)

I think you'll find handgun bans actually reduce crime, as do CCTV - if you think CCTV invades your privacy then you should probably go around in some sort of sheild to avoid you being seen.

Re:Nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854604)

You might want to rethink that. Google for morton grove, illinois and kennesaw, georgia. Two cities, two different approaches to firearms. check the stats with the follow up.

States wise, check crime stats for vermont compared to any of the other states, then take a gander at their gun laws.

Re:Nice (2, Informative)

MyNameIsFred (543994) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854621)

Scientific analysis [] does not support your statement. According to the CDC, there is "insufficient evidence" that bans, waiting periods and other gun control laws reduce crime rates.

Re:Nice (1)

Pantero Blanco (792776) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854639)

Whether they're successful at reducing crime or saving lives is irrelevant if they violate basic rights. The strategy mentioned in the article and the two that I mentioned all could do that, but I wouldn't support any of them.

Re:Nice (1)

Jonnty (910561) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854801)

Well, I think CCTV's fine as long as it does not take footage of you in places where usually you would have privacy. In the open is in full view of the public and doesn't count.

Re:Nice (5, Informative)

timmyf2371 (586051) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854267)

Sorry to break it to you, but you might want to read up on the Regulatory of Investgatory Powers Bill [] .

In summary, the Government can "request" your password/encryption key at any time. Failure to hand it over, or even to disclose to anyone that you have been "asked" is a criminal offence punishable by jailtime. Oh, and a bunch of other goodies which totally make a mockery of our justice system and civil rights.

Re:Nice (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854585)

Ok, I am curious what you are supposed to do if you do not know the key? For example, Skype uses some sort of encryption, but you do not manage the key yourself. So if the government wants to decrypt your communication and comes to you, what can you do to surrender the key?

Re:Nice (1)

timmyf2371 (586051) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854873)

IANAL nor do I play one on television, but from my understanding of the RIP Bill, it reverses the burden of proof and it becomes down to the individual concerned to prove they are not currently in the possession of the key, and that they had never been in possession of the key.

In the case of something like Skype, I believe it *should* be a simple case of explaining as to why you're unable to obtain the key. Not that I'd like to be in a situation where I was ordered to provide an encryption key, especially one I did not have access to, as I'd be likely to refuse on a matter of principle.

And, of course, I've not even begun my gripes with the presumption of guilt until you prove yourself innocent.

For those of you interested in more detailed analysis of the RIP Bill, what it means for UK Citizens, and the various provisions for Law Enforcement Agencies (and any other Government body!), STAND provide a useful guide [] to all aspects of the Bill.

Re:Nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854286)

This is a good way to stop it. If university students (tech-affine, knowledgeable, too much time on their hands) face reduction of their freedom to do anything they want on an ultrafast network, then law enforcement isn't going to like what's going to come of that.

real criminals use prepaid.. not land lines... (4, Insightful)

User 956 (568564) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854463)

In 2004, court-ordered wiretaps increased by 19% [] . This number doesn't even include terror-related wiretaps (which number an unheard of 1,754). It also doesn't include so-called "secret" wiretaps, allowed by Patriot.

The only groups these wiretaps hurt are the law-abiding citizens. The smart (read: dangerous) criminals have it all figured out-- Prepaid cell phones.

Pre-paid cell phones are literally disposable, one-use toys to the bad guys. You don't even need a fake ID, just cash, and not all that much at that. How can they tap your phone when you use a different phone for each call? The best they could do is tap all the pre-paid phones and listen to every conversation out there -- good luck with that! (wanna bet the NSA is big into voice recognition?)

Gotta watch The Wire (2, Funny)

Jordan Catalano (915885) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854537)

Season Three If you can't get taps on the burners, just sell the crooks pre-tapped phones.

Read carefully... (5, Funny)

Propagandhi (570791) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854121)

When I first read that headline I thought it said FCC Demands Universe Comply With Wiretap Law... Oddly, it didn't seem at all surprising.

Re:Read carefully... (0)

Meagermanx (768421) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854165)

First, my dear Pinky, the universities of America. Then, the world!

Re:Read carefully... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854424)


Some thoughts (1)

ZippyKitty (902321) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854127)

Can't read TFA - you need to log in.

I'm not sure objecting to possible future law changes is valid. While the government has been known to make those proposed law changes, they still actually have to change the law. The problem with some laws, and the ones we usually complain about here, is that they don't need to be changed to be abusive. Court supervision is our society's check on the power of investigating bodies. According to the summary - the law qualifies.


Re:Some thoughts - Article Text (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854141)

Can't read TFA - you need to log in.

Here's the text (both pages):

Colleges Protest Call to Upgrade Online Systems
E-Mail This
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Published: October 23, 2005

The federal government, vastly extending the reach of an 11-year-old law, is requiring hundreds of universities, online communications companies and cities to overhaul their Internet computer networks to make it easier for law enforcement authorities to monitor e-mail and other online communications.
Related Site: Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (

The action, which the government says is intended to help catch terrorists and other criminals, has unleashed protests and the threat of lawsuits from universities, which argue that it will cost them at least $7 billion while doing little to apprehend lawbreakers. Because the government would have to win court orders before undertaking surveillance, the universities are not raising civil liberties issues.

The order, issued by the Federal Communications Commission in August and first published in the Federal Register last week, extends the provisions of a 1994 wiretap law not only to universities, but also to libraries, airports providing wireless service and commercial Internet access providers.

It also applies to municipalities that provide Internet access to residents, be they rural towns or cities like Philadelphia and San Francisco, which have plans to build their own Net access networks.

So far, however, universities have been most vocal in their opposition.

The 1994 law, the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, requires telephone carriers to engineer their switching systems at their own cost so that federal agents can obtain easy surveillance access.

Recognizing the growth of Internet-based telephone and other communications, the order requires that organizations like universities providing Internet access also comply with the law by spring 2007.

The Justice Department requested the order last year, saying that new technologies like telephone service over the Internet were endangering law enforcement's ability to conduct wiretaps "in their fight against criminals, terrorists and spies."

Justice Department officials, who declined to comment for this article, said in their written comments filed with the Federal Communications Commission that the new requirements were necessary to keep the 1994 law "viable in the face of the monumental shift of the telecommunications industry" and to enable law enforcement to "accomplish its mission in the face of rapidly advancing technology."

The F.C.C. says it is considering whether to exempt educational institutions from some of the law's provisions, but it has not granted an extension for compliance.

Lawyers for the American Council on Education, the nation's largest association of universities and colleges, are preparing to appeal the order before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Terry W. Hartle, a senior vice president of the council, said Friday.

The Center for Democracy and Technology, a nonprofit civil liberties group, has enlisted plaintiffs for a separate legal challenge, focusing on objections to government control over how organizations, including hundreds of private technology companies, design Internet systems, James X. Dempsey, the center's executive director, said Friday.

The universities do not question the government's right to use wiretaps to monitor terrorism or criminal suspects on college campuses, Mr. Hartle said, only the order's rapid timetable for compliance and extraordinary cost.

Technology experts retained by the schools estimated that it could cost universities at least $7 billion just to buy the Internet switches and routers necessary for compliance. That figure does not include installation or the costs of hiring and training staff to oversee the sophisticated circuitry around the clock, as the law requires, the experts said.

"This is the mother of all unfunded mandates," Mr. Hartle said.

Even the lowest estimates of compliance costs would, on average, increase annual tuition at most American universities by some $450, at a time when rising education costs are already a sore point with parents and members of Congress, Mr. Hartle said.

At New York University, for instance, the order would require the installation of thousands of new devices in more than 100 buildings around Manhattan, be they small switches in a wiring closet or large aggregation routers that pull data together from many sites and send it over the Internet, said Doug Carlson, the university's executive director of communications and computing services.

"Back of the envelope, this would cost us many millions of dollars," Mr. Carlson said.

F.C.C. officials declined to comment publicly, citing their continuing review of possible exemptions to the order.


Some government officials said they did not view compliance as overly costly for colleges because the order did not require surveillance of networks that permit students and faculty to communicate only among themselves, like intranet services. They also said the schools would be required to make their networks accessible to law enforcement only at the point where those networks connect to the outside world.
Related Site: Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (

Educause, a nonprofit association of universities and other groups that has hired lawyers to prepare its own legal challenge, informed its members of the order in a Sept. 29 letter signed by Mark A. Luker, an Educause vice president.

Mr. Luker advised universities to begin planning how to comply with the order, which university officials described as an extraordinary technological challenge.

Unlike telephone service, which sends a steady electronic voice stream over a wire, the transmission of e-mail and other information on the Internet sends out data packets that are disassembled on one end of a conversation and reassembled on the other.

Universities provide hundreds of potential Internet access sites, including lounges and other areas that offer wireless service and Internet jacks in libraries, dorms, classrooms and laboratories, often dispersed through scores of buildings.

If law enforcement officials obtain a court order to monitor the Internet communications of someone at a university, the current approach is to work quietly with campus officials to single out specific sites and install the equipment needed to carry out the surveillance. This low-tech approach has worked well in the past, officials at several campuses said.

But the federal law would apply a high-tech approach, enabling law enforcement to monitor communications at campuses from remote locations at the turn of a switch.

It would require universities to re-engineer their networks so that every Net access point would send all communications not directly onto the Internet, but first to a network operations center where the data packets could be stitched together into a single package for delivery to law enforcement, university officials said.

Albert Gidari Jr., a Seattle lawyer at the firm Perkins Coie who is representing Educause, said he and other representatives of universities had been negotiating with lawyers and technology officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies since the spring about issues including what technical requirements universities would need to meet to comply with the law.

"This is a fight over whether a Buick is good enough, or do you need a Lexus?" Mr. Gidari said. "The F.B.I. is the lead agency, and they are insisting on the Lexus."

Law enforcement has only infrequently requested to monitor Internet communications anywhere, much less on university campuses or libraries, according to the Center for Democracy and Technology. In 2003, only 12 of the 1,442 state and federal wiretap orders were issued for computer communications, and the F.B.I. never argued that it had difficulty executing any of those 12 wiretaps, the center said.

"We keep asking the F.B.I., What is the problem you're trying to solve?" Mr. Dempsey said. "And they have never showed any problem with any university or any for-profit Internet access provider. The F.B.I. must demonstrate precisely why it wants to impose such an enormously disruptive and expensive burden."

Larry D. Conrad, the chief information officer at Florida State University, where more than 140 buildings are equipped for Internet access, said there were easy ways to set up Internet wiretaps.

"But the wild-eyed fear I have," Mr. Conrad said, "is that the government will rule that this all has to be automatic, anytime, which would mean I'd have to re-architect our entire campus network."

He continued, "It seems like overkill to make all these institutions spend this huge amount of money for a just-in-case kind of scenario."

The University of Illinois says it is worried about the order because it is in the second year of a $20 million upgrade of its campus network. Peter Siegel, the university's chief information officer, estimated that the new rules would require the university to buy 2,100 new devices, at a cost of an additional $13 million, to replace equipment that is brand new.

"It's like you buy a new car, and then the E.P.A. says you have to buy a new car again," Mr. Siegel said. "You'd say, 'Gee, could I just buy a new muffler?' "

Who can "tap" a line? (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854151)

I remember techs who used to tap into the phones at work and listen to personal calls. It was easy to do, but they needed physical access to the telco closet.

What are the limitations of the technology that is being deployed?

Can someone "tap" a connection remotely?

Wouldn't this easily be defeated by using encrypted connections all the time?

Re:Who can "tap" a line? (1)

The Warlock (701535) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854458)

Wouldn't this easily be defeated by using encrypted connections all the time?

Of course it would. That's the whole point of encryptyion.

Got to love /. (2, Insightful)

shawn(at)fsu (447153) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854133)

But with the technology infrastructure in place, what happens if congress decides to relax court order requirements in the future 'in their fight against criminals, terrorists and spies?'

Every time a stroy likes this gets posted we don't complain about the facts we get cought up in "what if's"

Re:Got to love /. (1)

Daleks (226923) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854175)

What if a student is plotting a terrorist act? Oh no! We may have a way to catch them! The horror!

Re:Got to love /. (1)

mboverload (657893) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854361)

Fewer and fewer students are getting into the US in foreign-exchange programs, anyway.

Re:Got to love /. (2, Insightful)

hazem (472289) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854385)

What if a citizen is plotting a terrorist act?

Quick! We must put GPS trackers, head-mounted cameras, and explosive collars on every person so the government can know what they're doing at any moment and blow their heads off at the first sign of unpatriotic activity.

Seriously, the more we give up our privacy and liberty to "protect our society", the more it becomes a society not worth protecting.

University expenses (1)

MarkRose (820682) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854135)

Seven billion dollars?! What a universal pain in the ass!

Re:University expenses (1)

Artevelde (923473) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854289)

Considering how much money they demand from me, I really don't have much sympathy.

Re:University expenses (1)

residieu (577863) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854470)

Don't worry, this will come right out of your checkbook as tuition prices go up.

Re:University expenses (1)

Impeesa (763920) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854296)

Expenses aren't even the biggest pain in the ass. You went to the same university as I did, you know how the bureaucracy is. Can you imagine them trying to come to an agreement on how to comply, and the IT people implementing it? Can you imagine them doing it in a way that wouldn't completely piss off all the /.-reading CPSC students even moreso than it already would?

Only criminals, terrorists and spies? (3, Funny)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854137)

Where's the fourth horseman? There are supposed to be four!

Re:Only criminals, terrorists and spies? (3, Funny)

FidelCatsro (861135) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854202)


Re:Only criminals, terrorists and spies? (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854203)

Congress. Of course, there could be some overlap.

Re:Only criminals, terrorists and spies? (1)

blhack (921171) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854265)

Come on guys....install gaim-encrypt, use SSL on IRC, and fire up TOR...this really isn't THAT big of a problem for us. Also, you know this will never ACTUALLY happen.

Re:Only criminals, terrorists and spies? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854323)

They forgot the RIAA

There is something fundamentally wrong here (5, Insightful)

cgenman (325138) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854138)

The federal government wants to make it more difficult for "criminals, terrorists and spies" by opening more backdoors in the system? Isn't that exactly the sort of thing that would make it easier for criminals, terrorists, and spies to get the info they need?

Damn you informed citizen! (1)

ravenspear (756059) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854154)

Will you please just screw the real technical implications of this and please think of the children?!!!!!

Re:There is something fundamentally wrong here (1)

42Penguins (861511) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854216)

Dear cgenman, As a result of your comments on, you are being investigated by the FBI under the Patriot Act. Please shut up with these "ideas" of yours, or we will be forced detain you for an indefinite length of time as an enemy combatant. Yours truly, Big Brother

Re:There is something fundamentally wrong here (3, Interesting)

Seumas (6865) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854220)

Here's the cut, folks:

Education is a privelege. You can stick a rider to any privelege you want. For example - while we would traditionally believe that we should not be subjected to drug or alcohol tests, searches or fingerprinting without having committed a crime - you can be forced to sign away those "rights" for the privelege of driving (along with protecting your social security number, since it's now usually required for any State ID or driver's license). Likewise, if we classify education as a privelege, we can tack on all the invasion we want. After all, if you don't want to give up those rights to your person - don't drive; if you don't want to give up those rights to your person; don't seek an education.

We can apply this to so many places in society. It's just a matter of redefining expectations and language. Eventually, we'll be able to classify everything you do as a "privelege" rather than a right. And once we've done that, you won't have any "rights" left.

And by then, I guess we won't have any terrorists. Of course, that's because we won't have any self-reliant, free-thinking, anti-authoritarians left, either.

LOGIN FOR TFA (3, Informative)

Lurk3r (786010) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854139)

A login for TFA is Login: Password: slashdot


Fermatprime (883412) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854297)

Note that this won't last long, as the NYT monitors accounts for "abuse" and stuff like that...

Re:LOGIN FOR TFA (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854306)

NYT: Oh no! People are reading our articles! Quick, stop them!

Ex parte, friends. (5, Insightful)

fuzzy12345 (745891) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854159)

One thing you have to understand: Our legal system is normally an adversarial one. It isn't the judge's role to question one side's assertion, that's the other side's job. The judge is typically a neutral arbiter who doesn't ask hard questions, but relies on the self-interest of two warring parties to expose each other's weaknesses.

Wiretap orders are ex-parte. That is, only one party is present, and the judge, normally neutral, is expected to suddenly become a more active participant in the search for justice (like judges in civil/Napoleonic code type jurisdictions are), asking hard questions in place of the absent other party. Needless to say, a judge who normally acts in one paradigm (and indeed has no training in the other) isn't likely to suddenly change his stripes. Further, the police know full well which judges are likely to ask a question or two and which are likely to issue an order without question, so judge shopping inevitably occurs.

What percentage of search warrants and wiretap requests are denied? I challenge you to even find statistics about such things.

Parte on, dudes.

Re:Ex parte, friends. (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854201)

There ought to be a privacy advocate whose job it was to be the devil's advocate at hearings on search warrants and oppose them. That way the judge could retain his or her familiar neutral role and warrants would be subject to great scrutiny.

Re:Ex parte, friends. (1)

MrShaggy (683273) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854284)

Why would you feel the need for the extra 3rd party ?

The State ALWAYS has its citezens best interest at heart ??

Isnt that right Comrade ?

Re:Ex parte, friends. (2, Informative)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854260)

The statistics are easy to find. However that won't help you sleep better. In 2004 there were aboyt 3500 wiretap requests by law enforcement agencies. NONE were denied.

What is surprising to me is the relatively small number. On the other hand it seems pretty unlikely that Congress will be under any pressure to pass a law granting wiretap authority without court approval since the courts never deny a wiretap application.

Of course you are free to ask to supress such evidence in the case you are brought to trial - that supression does happen.

Re:Ex parte, friends. (1)

njyoder (164804) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854842)

They're easy to find...and yet you can't provide a single citation....

Re:Ex parte, friends. (1)

A Guy From Ottawa (599281) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854452)

What percentage of search warrants and wiretap requests are denied? I challenge you to even find statistics about such things.

I agree finding such a statistic would be challenging... not because a Judge will agree to anything, but because to in order to have a judge even consider your request, you need to prove that you've exhausted EVERY OTHER possible avenue to obtain the information you're after.

Getting to that point is no easy task, so I'm not surprised that once there, a judge will agree with the LEA and most likely grant them the tap.

Disclaimer: IANAL - but I play one at parties...

Re:Ex parte, friends. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854453)

Parte on, dudes.

You gotta fight -- for your right -- to ex-parte!

What happens when (1)

elzurawka (671029) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854161)

What happens when these changes end up with stealing of person information, and hackers to compromising networks. This is rediculous. Security should be first, not the goverments attempt to stop "terrorists". They are the ones what will lead to problems, buy making it easier for the "terrorists" to hack our networks. How many terrorist attacks have there been in the last 3 years? Im sure the terrorists are mostly outside the US, where this law wont affect them. This is mearly a way for them to monitor this own population, and find a way to rob them even more.
The laws will eventually be passed, and they will be allowed to monitor all your traffic, to make sure nothing "terrorist" is being send, and then they will eventually pass a law so that the MPAA, and RIAA are allowed to make sure no copyright material is comming though the networks, and mircrosoft will do the same. Soon you will have NO privacy on the internet(and we will all migrate to the EUnet... d=05/10/19/1433203&tid=95&tid=219 [] ... The laws there will not be so strict, i would hope, and the US will loose control over the internet.
So when the US complains about terrorism, they are just trying to do things for their own good. When they say something is going to be used to "fight terrorism", there is no way that someone cant go against this because they will just waive their terrorist flag, and ram it though congress.


Who needs a security hole... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854319)

Just bribe a cop. Drug dealers do it all the time already. How hard will it be for them to get access to personal communications because of this?

FCC = UN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854164)

Neither of you will ever control the internet, and there is nothing you can do about it beotch! :p

Re:FCC = UN (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854465)

Hell fucking yeah. Note to UN and FCC: the internet is bigger than you and your petty politics. It has become a dominant force in the world, and it cannot be controlled.

Secure SSH Tunneling (4, Insightful)

AppleFever (917782) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854166)

I already know that my university network isn't secure from fellow students, so basically what this does is allow law enforcement to sit on their asses from work and see what us kiddos are doing...when all they needed to do was walk their laptop over here and plug into the wall and they can do the same.

The solution is simple, and I do it myself. I SSH Tunnel all of my traffic out of my university to my off-site server so that I don't have to worry about an insecure network. I don't have any control over their policies and sniffing is very simple, even on a switched network.

When your ISP (the university) doesn't have your security in mind, then why should I trust them? And I have even more reason to now.

And I am not forgetting that the off-site server will soon have a similar back door made by my ISP. And when that happens, I might as well look for a server in NL.

_ _ _ _ _ _
Got Teeth? []

Re:Secure SSH Tunneling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854275)

And when that happens, I might as well look for a server in NL.
It's a very common misconception that Holland has a more free and privacy-friendly society than the United States. They don't. Holland bans books and speech. Holland has a national ID requirement. You are required to register whenever you move, which means they automatically know who you choose to live with. For these privileges you will pay about 35% of your income in tax. And don't even start with what your cousin's friend who went to Amsterdm for a week told you, I lived there. Not a bad place, but you'd just be giving up one set of freedoms for another set.

Re:Secure SSH Tunneling (2, Interesting)

gullevek (174152) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854554)

Actually almost every european country has that. Even Japan. You have an ID (Social Security Number), you have to tell the Police where you live (thats required by law, but I am not sure if it is enforced, I lived two years somewhere else and I never told the police), and you pay redicolous hight taxes.

Heroin rackspace (1)

ThreeE (786934) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854558)

Moving your server to Holland is great -- until you realize that the sysadmins there are tripping out on heroin 24x7...

"What happens if congress relaxes requirements?" (2, Insightful)

Pyromage (19360) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854167)

I'm on your side in this one, but honestly, how could you possibly think that "Well, they might decide to fuck us later" is a valid argument?

If it were, you wouldn't be allowed to do anything. Well, if I pay you for my groceries, you might just take the money and run, so I don't have to pay. But officer, if you arrest me, you might beat a confession out of me, so you're not allowed to arrest me.

No, congress isn't supposed to be allowed to fuck me over things I 'might' do, and the inverse applies too.

Re:"What happens if congress relaxes requirements? (2, Insightful)

tabdelgawad (590061) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854233)

I know it's not fair to editorialize in a story submission, though I'd probably do it again in this case.

The problem with your analogies is that Congress has a history of ignoring privacy rights when it suits them. Consider how fast the Patriot Act passed Congress. And consider the 'turbo' subpoenas of the DMCA.

I think it's good to have both technological and legal barriers to invasions of privacy. I don't want to live in a world where the government has the technological capability, if not the legal right, to monitor everyone's life at will.

Re:"What happens if congress relaxes requirements? (1)

markdavis (642305) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854291)

Because it has been seen over and over and over again that once invasive infrastructure is allowed to exist, it WILL be abused. Creeping featurism.

For example, the law in Virginia requiring seat belt use is obviously a violation of civil liberties. What right does the government have to try and protect me from myself? None. The interested parties knew it wouldn't pass.... so to get it passed, it was worded that "we will never use it as a primary way to issue citations. We will never pull anyone over for not wearing a seatbelt". So people reluctantly approved it.

Fast forward several years and... SURPRISE! Now that people are used to giving up their rights it was much easier to pass the original intent of the law. So now the law was revised and the police *CAN* pull you over and ticket you for not wearing a seatbelt... even for no other reason. I would never get in a car without wearning a seatbelt, regardless of any laws... but that is not the point.

Same thing with cameras- they get pushed in place for one reason, with assurances they will "never be used for any other purpose" and then several years later... SURPRISE! They are now used for other purposes. And for each example you can think of where we KNOW the abuses, there are probably a dozen more in which the public doesn't even know there are abuses.

Then there is the effect of losing civil liberties slowly, over generations... each generation is willing to give up a little more freedom in the name of safety. Cumulatively, over many generations, the amount of freedom lost is quite staggering.

This is the "slippery slope". It is not paranoia, it is human nature.

Think about that when the governments start to collect fingerprints and DNA of non-criminals, in the name of safety and security... "but it will never be used for any other purpose". Once you give the information out, it can never be undone.

Re:"What happens if congress relaxes requirements? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854357)

Fast forward several years and... SURPRISE! Now that people are used to giving up their rights it was much easier to pass the original intent of the law. So now the law was revised and the police *CAN* pull you over and ticket you for not wearing a seatbelt... even for no other reason. I would never get in a car without wearning a seatbelt, regardless of any laws... but that is not the point.

Yah ... they pulled that here in Illinois too. The hue-and-cry over the original seat-belt law was deafening, but years later, when they finally decided to make it a primary offense ... hardly anyone seemed to notice. Incrementalism at work, I guess.

Say, has anyone seen my saucepan? You know, the one with the frog in it.

Re:"What happens if congress relaxes requirements? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854416)

You actually trust the government to do the "right" thing, not abuse their power and be upfront about everything? Holy shit! Why don't you run for some public office? True believers are in high demand these days.


$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854205)

FCC taps YOU!

errrr.... never mind...

The real question here (2, Interesting)

asadodetira (664509) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854207)

As technology facilitates eavesdropping and spying on each other, one may well assume that the only reasonable thing to do is to adopt a position of total openness of information for all, with nobody having any secrets to hide. The real question here is...If we were all wiretapped. How many of us would have things to hide?

Re:The real question here (1)

tftp (111690) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854280)

The only people with "nothing to hide" are the people who own nothing, know nothing of value, and don't do anything that might be of interest to others.

Even Oog the Caveman has a secret (where he hides his stash of dried meat.)

1984 came 17 years early in America. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854527)

Before the Supreme Court decided Warden v. Hayden, 387 U.S. 294, 309 (1967), [] law enforcement officers could not obtain search warrants to search for and seize "mere evidence" of crime. Warrants were permitted only to seize contraband, instrumentalities, or fruits of crime. See Boyd v. United States, 116 U.S. 616 (1886). []

She had had her first love-affair when she was sixteen, with a Party member of sixty who later committed suicide to avoid arrest. 'And a good job too,' said Julia, 'otherwise they'd have had my name out of him when he confessed.' Since then there had been various others. Life as she saw it was quite simple. You wanted a good time; 'they', meaning the Party, wanted to stop you having it; you broke the rules as best you couId. She seemed to think it just as natural that 'they' should want to rob you of your pleasures as that you should want to avoid being caught. She hated the Party, and said so in the crudest words, but she made no general criticism of it. Except where it touched upon her own life she had no interest in Party doctrine. He noticed that she never used Newspeak words except the ones that had passed into everyday use. She had never heard of the Brotherhood, and refused to believe in its existence. Any kind of organized revolt against the Party, which was bound to be a failure, struck her as stupid. The clever thing was to break the rules and stay alive all the same. He wondered vaguely how many others like her there might be in the younger generation people who had grown up in the world of the Revolution, knowing nothing else, accepting the Party as something unalterable, like the sky, not rebelling against its authority but simply evading it, as a rabbit dodges a dog. -- George Orwell "1984"

heres an idea (2, Funny)

fender_rock (824741) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854210)

Perhaps the US government in their infinite wisdom could devise some plan whereas they go about renetworking the entire internet through the FBI? After all, the US does own the world. Don't we?

Re:heres an idea (1)

fender_rock (824741) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854245)

Did I say "FBI"? I meant FCC. They're pretty much the same anyways.

In A Dictatorship, The Dissident Is A Criminal (3, Insightful)

tbuckner (861471) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854212)

Let's face it, an inefficient law-enforcement apparatus is the only reason we still have certain freedoms at all. The closer the government can get to truly universal surveillance (total tapping capability, cameras everywhere, biometrics and data-mining methods to handle the firehose of data), the closer we come to a police state that cannot be resisted. That's why the feds are leaning on Skype and other VOIP providers; currently, Skype can't be tapped.

The most dangerous weapon a criminal can carry is a badge.

Re:In A Dictatorship, The Dissident Is A Criminal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854468)

Skype can't be tapped.

you have looked at the source code to confirm that right ?

Re:In A Dictatorship, The Dissident Is A Criminal (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854867)

In theory, isn't it possible todo a middle man attack where one could have have a device that intercepts all data in between, with it's own little unique certificates or whatever skype uses. And just decrypt the data and reencrypt it?

I have not seen any system in skype like HTTPS which tells you who certified the certificate, who owns it. etc. etc.

Ban Infrastructure? (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854225)

But with the technology infrastructure in place, what happens if congress decides to relax court order requirements in the future 'in their fight against criminals, terrorists and spies?
Civil Libertarians worry too much about infrastructure. Not that the treat to privacy isn't real. But not having an evesdropping infrastructure in place doesn't buy us much.

Consider the phone system. Not so long ago, you tapping a phone was hard. You had to make a physical connection to the specific phone line. ("Hey Bugsy! What's that clicking sound!?") But it was a lot harder for a pre-Patriot Act FBI agent to get permission to push that button than it was for his 1960s counterpart to get permission to plant a tape recorder in your basement.

The real threat to civil liberties is not the enabling technology. It's legal and political policies that authorize such threats.

Re:Ban Infrastructure? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854295)

"Hey Bugsy! What's that clicking sound!?"

I don't know why, but that made me supa-lol.

here's another idea (1)

fender_rock (824741) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854229)

the FCC is requiring universities to upgrade their online systems Why doesnt the FCC downgrade their online systems? That way everybody will be nice and compatible again, and I can continue my download of The 40 Year Old Virgin torrent. Maybe a little pr0n too while I'm at it...

In the future. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854237)

In the future, there will be robots!

My own insane theory (3, Interesting)

pcgamez (40751) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854246)

Why doesn't the FCC pay for it? I bet that will get them to have some common sense. I of course realise this means that the cost will still be the same or more. What it will also do is raise more congressional concern as the FCC will have to request that amount.

Re:My own insane theory (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854327)

But the FCC doesn't have any money of its own. It's spending your money...

Re:My own insane theory (1)

pcgamez (40751) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854716)

I already stated that, making your post redundant. Let me state it again. It WILL still cost the same amount. The difference is that the FCC would have to get approval to spend this amount from Congress, which will not be happy about it (and therefore possibly drive them to find either a cheaper alternative or take a hard look at *why* it is needed.

Re:My own insane theory (1)

Jester998 (156179) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854688)

Umm, because it's law that the universities have to have this capability? It's been law for >10 years... it's not like the universities haven't had time to get this implemented.

It's illegal to drive with a burnt-out headlight. If your car has a burnt headlight, should the policeman who pulled you over pay for the replacement bulb?

With apologies to the Wizard of Oz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854256)

Criminals, terrorists and spies! Oh my!
Criminals, terrorists and spies! Oh my!
Criminals, terrorists and spies! Oh my!

I want my CS classes or screw the Feds! (2, Informative)

creimer (824291) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854262)

I waited three years for the C++ classes to become available at the local community college since the school didn't have the money to renew the Microsoft site license. (Java and Linux was taught during the meantime; not bad but job market for C++ programmers is a tad bit larger.) Now the Feds want the schools to upgrade the network infrastructure to find the next Neo in the Matrix. Oh, my gosh. I wonder which budget that little hardware upgrade is going to come from. Guess I'll be learning more Java at Starbucks when I graduate.

Re:I want my CS classes or screw the Feds! (1)

MacJedi (173) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854622)

At the risk of getting off-topic, why did your community college need Microsoft to teach C++?

Answer: Connection logging, not data surveillance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854290)

Any hard-core criminal is probably going to be using encryption and/or steganography and/or code-speak to begin with. And they're probably going to find a hijacked or unmonitored connection to transmit their messages anyhow. Wiretaps are completely useless in these cases.

The other case is for catching less sophisticated criminals. Evidently these guys still use the phone system quite a bit, considering the number of phone wiretaps being issued and the success rate thereof. But internet wiretaps won't help because easy-to-use encryption is now widespread. (Skype, PGP email, HTTPS, etc.) Herein lies the solution: For a given "wiretap", just log who is connecting to who and don't worry about what they are saying because you likely won't be able to read it anyhow. Bingo, problem solved: no need for expensive new equipment to re-route and record traffic. There would also be less potential for abuse, should a naughty hacker break into a monitoring system.

The most important investigative tool is simply finding out who the "partners in crime" are. From that point on, there's no need for internet wiretaps. There are plenty of inexpensive, tried-and-true physical investigative techniques that make encryption irrelevant. As anyone in data security knows, the security chain is only as strong its the weakest link, and the weakest link is the cheapest to attack.

About time! (1)

griffjon (14945) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854292)

Universities are well known for harboring dissidents and terrorists [] .

It's all that edumakashun. We should get rid of that, too.

Universities are the best place to look! (3, Informative)

mc6809e (214243) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854293)

Re:Universities are the best place to look! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854607)

CU prof's essay sparks dispute - Prof Ward Churchill says 9/11 victims were not innocent people

That guy wasn't a terrorist or some liberal, just a world class prick.

Re:Universities are the best place to look! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854853)

You pull a few random wackos out of your ass and declare all universities bastions of terrorists and anti-West zealots. I've gone to three university for my various degrees and well, I have to tell you to stop reading the news online and get out of your parents' basement once in a while.


miu (626917) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854309)

The feds have had CALEA ready to spring on ISPs for a long time, this would pretty much kill smaller ISPs and probably result in rate hikes for the big guys. Title 3 warrants right now require a judge and very specific procedures (3 teams to handle raw, intermediate, final - kinda like a clean room reverse engineering job), CALEA requires none of this - requires no intervention or knowledge by the operators of the system to activate - the cops can go fishing and obtain a warrant later. I personally don't believe that it is technologically and economically possible to fully comply with CALEA, but who knows.

Would the money be better spent on security? (1)

whyne (784135) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854350)

Why not focus on security problems within the goverment before legislating new ways to make their life easier, [] .

What happens? Stupid question. (1)

FredThompson (183335) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854359)

But with the technology infrastructure in place, what happens if congress decides to relax court order requirements in the future 'in their fight against criminals, terrorists and spies?'"

"What happens if (insert bogey-man phrase/villain of the moment here) happens?"

What happens in the case of change is chage. Your question can be applied to anything, that makes the question a worthless waste of time.

The article very clearly states the issue is time for compliance, not application of a law THIRTEEN YEARS after it was created. Oh, whoa for the schools, they sat on their butts for eleven years. Boo hoo. My heart aches for them. How much money from the government did they chose NOT to take over that time period? The procrastinated and now they're complaining about a situation they allowed happen. Boo hoo.

Scary Personal Truth.... (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854360)

It appears to me that there *should be* protests in the street, mass lawsuits, and very interesting elections over this. At least to me this is where things should have gone with the patriot act.

The current alternative reality is that I'm posting this anonymously because I truly am afraid of my own government.


It's too late, baby, now, it's too late (1)

handy_vandal (606174) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854373)

what happens if congress decides to relax court order requirements in the future 'in their fight against criminals, terrorists and spies?

By the time Congress and the courts have anything to say about it, the guys who get things done have already done it. This is an old story which plays out again and again with emerging technologies.

See, for example, COINTELPRO [] , although Watergate, Iran-Contra etc. demonstrate the same principle: Congress and the courts are less ... Executive branches of government, prone to playing straw-man mop-up roles.


I don't follow this issue enough, but... (2, Interesting)

xigxag (167441) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854447)

What's to stop some would-be terrorist from simply encrypting his communications? He and his cohorts could probably use a one time pad so that even if older transmissions were tapped and the alleged terrorist captured, he'd be unable to disclose the old passwords to decode his old conversations.

Further, I imagine that it's possible to multiplex your voice signal with some other innocuous sound-transmission so that it would be impossible to tell if you were on actually on the line or not. Would-be wiretappers would hear nothing but slightly distorted Liza Minelli showtunes. Or am I wrong?

Is the FCC Stopable? (1)

LikwidFlux (924068) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854487)

It's a serious question. By definition the FCC is a governmental agency and any fines and/or enactments are subject to a hearing and the people affected have the oppurtunity to fight the FCC in front of a court.

However, the problem companies and people run into is that the FCC holds the power to remove their licenses and abilities to do what is core to their business.

I know someone will say this is stupid, but Howard Stern is a good example. The FCC levied extensive fines against The Howard Stern Show, and when the broadcasters planned their court appearances the FCC told them if they fought the fines they would revoke their broadcasting licenses indefinately.

So I ask you, what can be done to combat the FCC?

Patriot Chimpy McHitler (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854491)

the 1994 wiretap law, which would make it easier for law enforcement to monitor communications online.

The important thing is that we figure out a way to blame this on Bush, Ashcroft, and the USA PATRIOT Act.

What's to stop them? (1, Insightful)

A Guy From Ottawa (599281) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854496)

with the technology infrastructure in place, what happens if congress decides to relax court order requirements in the future 'in their fight against criminals, terrorists and spies?'

Ummmm... what's to stop congress from passing a law that says all gays should be stoned to death in a public ceremony?

Answer: You! It amazes me that people are complaining about the way congress and the Bush Admin are "slowly" taking away their rights, selling out to corporations bla de bla bla...

Hey American Joe... you voted them into power!!! Twice!!! There's a reason everyone has the right to vote. Unfortunately that includes the uninformed and the easily mislead.


Can Someone Please Tell Me ... (3, Insightful)

constantnormal (512494) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854515)

... why Homeland Defense is so eager to pursue the "criminals, terrorists and spies" lurking in this country, and so afraid to pursue them in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and other nations where they obviously exist in great abundance?

Is is simply a case of looking for one's lost keys under the streetlight across the street, where you've not been, instead of down through the sewer grate you're standing over, just 'cause the light is better over there?

If they really want to start locally, I think they'd have more success bugging the phones and routers of the Congress and Executive branch, and posting the results on the web to further the cause of transparency and honesty in government. Nothing more would be required -- no investigations, no prosecutions, because we live in a nation with a free press and the freedom to vote our feeble minds.

Yes, let's bug every nook and cranny in the Capitol -- I believe we would root out a great many "criminals, terrorists and spies". It would not greatly surprise me to find Osama bin Laden living the good life in some Georgetown penthouse apartment.

"It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress." -- Mark Twain

Re:Can Someone Please Tell Me ... (0)

cnerd2025 (903423) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854732)

Can Someone Please Tell Me ... why Homeland Defense (sic) is so eager to pursue the "criminals, terrorists and spies" lurking in this country, and so afraid to pursue them in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and other nations where they obviously exist in great abundance?

Because they're "power hungry fucktards" and they are "corrupt filthy bastards". Actually though, Mr. Clemens words of wisdom do not apply. Remember that the FCC somewhat has the ability to select its rules and regulations. Because of its status, it can just assume run things from its little corner. The Congress is actually not a part of this. Congress had to pass a law allowing the FCC to exist, but the FCC pretty much determines its own methods of despotism. This is really garbage though. We have this idiot from Texas (and seeing he actually stands out as an idiot, that says something) running the show with bastards all around him. He has no idea what the fuck is going on! In fact, if we look at the moves the overgrown Bush has taken, we'll notice that he knows nothing about domestic policy and knows only a little about foriegn policy. In fact, he lies, but unlike our former President, he doesn't stick to them. America invaded Iraq: a) to keep Saddam from using WMD b) to liberate the Iraqi people and c) to build a Mid-eastern Democracy. None of these are true. In fact, the Bush Administration has taken a very clear action, aimed at Saudi. We invaded Iraq to pressure Saudi from aiding al-Quaeda. Remember, a majority of the 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi. The people there are subsidized by the government, and foriegn workers are brought in to take care of Saudi's functions. America was getting lip-service from Saudi, but al-Quaeda was getting silent aide from Saudi as well. Bush is just a moron, he knows nothing about politics nor how to run the country. His daddy got him into Yale and got him the good grades. Yes, even Yale does this. He has no experience to be a president. He was what, a baseball owner? Of a crappy team? If he were Steinbrenner (another major asshole) that would be one thing, but owner of the Texas Rangers. Woohoo ::twirls finger::. Basically, the executive branch is power-hungry, the legislative is run by special interests and political party cronies, and the judicial only gets to make decisions when people ask them to.

In America we seem so concerned over what might happen, due to Political Correctness and blood-sucking lawyers, that the other extreme (uber liberals vis a vis uber conservatives) has profited by it. One could call that a conspiracy. Lawyers continue to be employed and the government gets to rule more autocratically. I'm tired of this bullshit in American Politics. Libertarian never sounded so good.

Media consolidation makes monitoring easier (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13854611)

The Carlyle Group: Are they buying your cable TV company (Insight, Casema, ...)?

carrier pigeon (1)

E8086 (698978) | more than 8 years ago | (#13854644)

That's why I use carrier pigeons and the bad guys use pen&paper with bicyle couriers. Back in the first Gulf War after we destroyed just about all of Iraq's communication systems they used guys on bikes/mopeds/horses/donkeys to send messages. There are dozens of places a message can be hidden on a person, paper sewn into clothing, rolled paper in a pen tube, paper in a pack of smokes. Wait, it's 2005 now, forget carrying paper, flash memory cards are a lot smaller than a couple pieces of folded paper. How about a zippo with a false a room for a mini SD card with encrypted files. There's a reason Osama stopped using his satellite phone. There are too many ways to avoid these wire taps, coded messages on foreigh hosted sites posted from public terninals left open, maybe someone forgot to logout of a library PC. What next, people can be stopped and searched on the street because they might me a courier for the mob or the terrorists or the ACLU or the Democratic party? How long until the RIAA is sueing the Feds for access to sue "file sharers"?

What about the schools that just finished their many-million dollar upgrades? They have to do it all over. We're going to have to pay for this through more entries in your term bill and taxes for the state funded schools.
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