Battle Lines being Drawn – Law Enforcement v. Internet Freedoms

I was referred to a nice article by Declan McCullagh outlining the implications of a new “Policy Document” released by the FCC late last Friday, Sept. 23rd.

The FCC has come up with the following four pronged set of principles that will govern any new Internet policy it develops:

Moreover, to ensure that broadband networks are widely deployed, open, affordable, and accessible to all consumers, the Commission adopts the following principles:
• To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to access the lawful Internet content of their choice.
• To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to run applications and use services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement.
• To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to connect their choice of legal devices that do not harm the network.
• To encourage broadband deployment and preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet, consumers are entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers.

Pay close attention to the end of #2 – Consumers can use whatever software and Internet services they want, provided that law enforcement has a back door into that software that it can use as needed. Wow.

At the same time, the FCC announced its rule implementing a longstanding request (from law enforcement) to extend the Federal wiretapping rules from telephones to the Internet. When Congress last touched the issue, it had expressly *NOT* extended the rule to broadband providers. Now, the FCC is trying to do it without Congress’ help.

Declan’s not the only one to notice this obscure little pronouncement from the FCC. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has announced its plans to sue when the final rules are officially published.

“A tech mandate requiring backdoors in the Internet endangers the privacy of innocent people, stifles innovation, and risks the Internet as a forum for free and open expression,” said Kurt Opsahl, EFF staff attorney.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

One Response to Battle Lines being Drawn – Law Enforcement v. Internet Freedoms

  1. […] As I wrote on September 30th, the battle over the expansion of the CALEA regulations (which stands for the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Agencies) is underway. A lawsuit filed on October 25, 2005 before the D.C. circuit asks for review of the FCC’s final order. Seven organizations, including the American Library Association, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and the Electronic Privacy Information Center, have joined together into a coalition to request that the final order be vacated. […]

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