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04/09/2004 Archived Entry: "Internet surveillance"

SecurityFocus has a nice article in The Register about the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), and how the private sector is rushing to cash in...or as they call it, "Milking the Internet surveillance cash cow". I found this particularly chilling:

[Ex-FBI agent Michael Warren] believes the FBI is angling to make their case before Congress next year, when the sunset provisions on the Patriot Act go into effect. "If Bush is reelected, Congress will be primed for this," he said. "Expectations for privacy are being lowered right now. They'll have law enforcement behind them, and with congressmen and senators up for reelection, they'll feel pressured to have this in place to make up for what they'll lose when the sunset provisions go into effect. But," he added, "if Bush is defeated, this could go south."

Several years ago a colleague told me of a project he worked on, which could scan 70 megabytes of Internet traffic per second for suspicious words. I'd expect that since then, performance has improved by one or two orders of magnitude. What with Carnivore and Echelon and the CALEA, you have no Internet privacy other than what you make yourself.

But that topic -- personal encryption -- must wait for another blog.

I'd suggest making the November election your personal deadline for getting up to speed on computer security, and downloading all the software you might need. The feds have been straining at the leash for years, trying to clamp down on personal or commercial computer security. Even now they're targetting computer consultants who assist the wrong clients. They've tried often to control or ban the use of encryption software. A Bush re-election will ensure a fresh assault on your right to privacy, and as far as I know, Kerry has completely ducked taking a stand on this, so don't expect much from him.

Two of the "good guys" in this fight, and good resources for information on electronic freedom:
The Electronic Frontier Foundation.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center. (Be sure to check out their terrific list of privacy tools for your computer.)

Like the T-shirt says, "Privacy is not a crime."

Not yet, anyway.


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