There is more than just a call for more broadband in the Obama internet policy. The Obama administration and law enforcement agencies are working on a new bill, which will further regulate the telecommunications industry. The regulations will include greater access for surveillance purposes. The ability of the government to observe communications will greatly expand if the bill becomes law. Washington already has access to a broad array of communications for surveillance purposes, and this will expand that access.
Obama internet regulations
A bill will propose more access for wiretap and surveillance purposes for intelligence and law enforcement officials, according to the New York Times. The White House is on board, and the Obama Internet surveillance bill will likely go to Congress next year. The amount of communications that the government already has access to is ample, which will expand if the bill passes. Land lines and cellular phones are easy enough to get into. However, there are some forms of electronic communication which are private and encrypted.
Small firms will lose out
Regulations tend to favor the companies that can afford to keep up with them. A large tech firm with a generous engineering staff will hardly be fazed, whereas a small startup will be disadvantaged. Recent bans of the Blackberry due to the way Research In Motion designed it occurred, over exactly this type of issue. The device keeps emails and other messages encrypted and private, off limits even to the company itself. RIM is in the process of complying with surveillance requirements of several governments, and companies such as Skype and other VOIP, or voice over internet protocol, companies will have to re-engineer their products to regulatory standards. Fewer people are relying on traditional phone communications. Law enforcement and intelligence personnel have warned that the ability to monitor criminals is “going dark” as a result of less access.
Ear to the walls
There have been many laws passed giving government the ability to look or listen in. Few methods of communication, except maybe sign language, are exempt. There was a great deal of controversy over the Bush domestic spying program. Obama has not dealt with fears of subversion of civil liberties. Though further potential encroachment on privacy seems almost egregious, there is the security issue to deal with. The government maintains that it isn’t overstepping its bounds in requesting greater access. A greater degree of surveillance may seem a great tool for catching criminals in the act, but can easily be misused.
NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/27/us/27wiretap.html?pagewanted=1
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