EFF Squared Off Against FBI

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has been battling with the FBI for two years with a Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) regarding the “Going Dark” program. It appears that the handle does not have anything to do with a specific concept. The agency has responded with: “the program name given to the FBI’s efforts to utilize innovative technology; foster cooperation with industry; and assist our state, local, and tribal law enforcement partners in a collaborative effort to close the growing gap between lawful interception requirements and our capabilities.”

The EFF did get some paperwork and found five points the Federal Law Enforcement agency wants. Those points are:

modernization /amendment of existing laws, enhancing authorities to protect industry proprietary and [law enforcement] sensitive lawful intercept information, equipment and techniques, enhancing [law enforcement] agencies’ coordination leveraging technical expertise of FBI with other [law enforcement] entities, enhancing lawful intercept cooperation between the communications industry and [law enforcement agencies] with a “One Voice” approach, and seeking new federal funding to bolster lawful intercept capabilities.

While most would agree the FBI does serve important functions for the safety of the Unites States and its citizens, the EFF and others are concerned that law changes/updates without outside review could create situations for Internet Service Providers that are very costly or technically unworkable.

One of the bullet points they are looking to address is encrypted communications that are peer-2-peer based, Skype being a popular example. This is a great example of how it would be impractical and quite costly to attempt to monitor communications in an investigation.

It is tough to see how this is a big problem for the FBI. Certainly they can and do use existing law to get a court order to enter a suspects place insert a keystroke logger, and leave, without informing the suspect(s). Since the keystroke logger records before encryption, they got everything they need.

In a separate related document the EFF has expressed is concern with the expansion of Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act (CALEA).

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