19 September 2001

Ask Congress to Legislate to Improve Security Not Eliminate Freedoms

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is urging you to notify your elected government representatives to oppose H.R. 2500, a measure that will expand wiretap powers, enable warrantless searches, and implement restrictions on encryption.

I disconnected on hold from the KFYI Barry Young show this morning. I wanted to challenge his assertion that you have no "reasonable right to privacy" on the internet. Nothing could be further than the truth - your medical records, banking records, financial transactions, credit history records are all protected by encryption. Encyrption is just not limited to secret coded emails. None of these measures being advanced would have stopped the recent terrorist attacks. Many Americans are puzzled why us geeks (polls indicate 70% of the public support encryption restrictions while in the tech industry 80% or more do not) are making this a big deal. I'm going to address the other tenets of this hideous legislation proposed in the coming days, but thought I'd say a few words about encryption first and why giving the government a "backdoor" is a rotten idea.
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13 September 2001

FBI pushes Carnivore on network providers after attacks

Just hours after three airplanes smashed into the buildings in what some U.S. legislators have dubbed a second Pearl Harbor, FBI agents began to visit Web-based, e-mail firms and network providers, according to engineers at those companies who spoke on condition of anonymity. An administrator at one major network service provider said that FBI agents showed up at his workplace on Tuesday "with a couple of Carnivores, requesting permission to place them in our core, along with offers to actually pay for circuits and costs."

The FBI's controversial Carnivore spy system, which has been renamed DCS1000, is a specially configured Windows computer designed to sit on an Internet provider's network and monitor electronic communications. To retrieve the stored data, an agent stops by to pick up a removable hard drive with the information that the Carnivore system was configured to record.

Update (01-09-14 16:15): Senate OKs FBI Net Spying - FBI agents soon may be able to spy on Internet users legally without a court order. On Thursday evening, two days after the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history, the Senate approved the "Combating Terrorism Act of 2001," which enhances police wiretap powers and permits monitoring in more situations.
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