Thank You, Sir! May I Have Another!? [9:27 pm]
The FCC ruling comes pursuant to a request by U.S. law enforcement agencies to extend the reach of a decade old federal statute, the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA, to broadband Internet service providers including cable companies, DSL providers, satellite providers and even electric companies that provide inline Internet access. The ruling, if it becomes final, may require such ISPs to create and deploy new and expensive technologies that would ensure that communications carried over broadband were deliberately insecure and capable of being intercepted, retransmitted, read, and understood by law enforcement. Of course, whatever law enforcement can do, hackers will be able to do easier and faster. What this means is that IP protocols may have to be adjusted, and the future of encryption may also be in doubt.
[...] The FCC’s ruling goes well beyond the extensive subpoena authority of the grand jury and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, and even the USA-PATRIOT Act. By making ISPs the electronic equivalent of the phone company, and therefore subject to CALEA, the FCC opens the door to mandating that all future TCP/IP technologies — possibly even encrypted ones — be designed at the outset to be tapable. After all, it would do the cops no good to receive a mass of encrypted packets.
What’s worse, all of this would be done on your dime. As Commissioner Abernathy pointed out in a statement, “upgrading networks to comply with a new packet-mode standard for surveillance will be a costly endeavor, and there are many unanswered questions about how these costs should be recovered.”
[...] I am all for letting the cops tap phones, and even IMs, chat sessions, e-mail and websites with appropriate court orders. What I don’t like is making us reinvent the Internet just for these purposes. The FCC action is a large step towards requiring this.