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Think Twice Before You Make the Web “Wiretap Ready”

Last Updated on February 15, 2011, 9:41 pm ET

Today we joined fourteen public interest groups and trade associations in a Statement of Concern about potential dangers involved in seeking legislation that would require Internet communications services to make their channels ‘wiretap ready.’

uncle sam wants your privacy

Since last fall, the FBI and other federal law enforcement agencies have been hinting that they need new powers to listen in on conversations taking place online. Specifically, the government has said it wants any communication on the web, regardless of encryption or mode of transmission, to be easily accessible to government agents (with the proper court orders, of course). The idea would be to subject every kind of information transfer online to the same “wiretap ready” requirement that currently exists only for telephone conversations.

As we argue in the Statement, any discussion of new legislation is premature without a clearer picture of the alleged problem that law enforcement faces. We will likely hear more about this issue at the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing this Thursday. If, upon further investigation, it is clear there is a problem, the Statement highlights some very important considerations that legislators should have in mind as they search for a solution.

The full text of the letter is embedded below:

CALEA II Joint Statement