FBI proposing 'wiretapping' law for social media, Web email, according to report

The FBI is preparing to ask Web companies to insert computer code into their products that would create “backdoor” entries to facilitate wiretapping by the government, according to a report by CNET.

Current laws provide for telephone wiretapping by law enforcement agencies for investigations of suspected illegal activity under certain conditions. However, the shift from telephone to the Web has made wiretapping much more difficult and has necessitated new legal approaches for Web-based surveillance.

As a solution, the FBI’s general counsel has drafted a proposed law that would require companies including Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo and Google to create software code “backdoors” in their Web products to make them wiretap-friendly. The Web products to be covered would include social networks, Voice Over Internet Protocol, instant messaging and Web email, CNET said in the May 4 article.

The FBI's proposal would amend the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act of 1994, which currently applies only to telecommunications and broadband networks, and not Web companies.

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