November 17, 2010
ACLU Renews Its Warning Of Potential Abuse
WASHINGTON – According to a report in The New York Times today, the FBI is lobbying technological companies including Google and Facebook to win support for an Obama administration proposal to expand its Internet wiretapping capabilities. The administration is urging Congress to revise the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), claiming that law enforcement needs to keep pace with technological changes. The original law, passed in 1994, compels telecommunications and broadband companies to make their services wiretap-ready.
Today’s report states that the administration is hoping to submit proposed legislation to Congress early next year to overhaul CALEA in order to ensure telecommunications companies’ networks can be wiretapped as soon as they receive a government order. According to today’s report, the proposal could also mandate that any communications service based overseas ensure its communications are routed through an American server so that the government is able to collect and wiretap those communications.
The American Civil Liberties Union warned that the administration’s proposal could grant the government the means for extensive surveillance and is urging Congress to reject any proposal that does not protect Americans’ privacy and civil liberties.
The following can be attributed to Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:
“It is important to realize that this proposal isn’t simply applying the same sort of wiretap system we have for phones to the Internet; it would require reconfiguring and changing the nature of the Internet. We remain very concerned that this proposal is a clear recipe for abuse and will make it that much easier for the government to gain access to our most personal information. Americans should not simply surrender their privacy and other fundamental values in the name of national security. We strongly encourage Congress to not simply rubberstamp this proposal that will grant the government the ability to conduct broad surveillance on innocent Americans.”