Remember the coverage about Dubai’s threatening to shut down Blackberry service unless it could gain access to user communications? And how the US would never do that? Well:
Essentially, officials want Congress to require all services that enable communications — including encrypted e-mail transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites like Facebook and software that allows direct “peer to peer” messaging like Skype — 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 proposal’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, a 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 officials’ phones, including the prime minister’s.
“I think it’s a disaster waiting to happen,” he said. “If they start building in all these back doors, they will be exploited.”
And yet this will happen. With little to no notice or objection from the public.