Remember the coverage about Dubai’s threatening to shut down Blackberry service unless it could gain access to user communications? Â And how the US would never do that? Â Well:
Essentially, officials want Congress to require all services that enable communications â€” including encrypted e-mail transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites likeÂ Facebook and software that allows direct â€œpeer to peerâ€ messaging likeÂ Skype â€” to be technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order. The mandate would include being able to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages.
[O]fficials are coalescing around several of the proposalâ€™s likely requirements:
– Communications services that encrypt messages must have a way to unscramble them.
– Foreign-based providers that do business inside the United States must install a domestic office capable of performing intercepts.
– Developers of software that enables peer-to-peer communication must redesign their service to allow interception.
What could possibly go wrong, eh?
Steven M. Bellovin, aÂ Columbia University computer science professor, pointed to anepisode in Greece: In 2005, it was discovered that hackers had taken advantage of a legally mandated wiretap function to spy on top officialsâ€™ phones, including the prime ministerâ€™s.
â€œI think itâ€™s a disaster waiting to happen,â€ he said. â€œIf they start building in all these back doors, they will be exploited.â€
And yet this will happen. Â With little to no notice or objection from the public.