Patt Morrison for September 27, 2010

Wiretapping Facebook?

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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Obama is considering extending wiretapping abilities to Facebook, Skype and even BlackBerry smartphones

The Obama Administration aims to make it easier for the FBI to wiretap online communications, from social networking sites like Facebook to communications on BlackBerrys. The FBI claims their ability to track “bad guys” is increasingly moving away from the telephone and onto the internet. The agency spent close to ten million dollars last year to help communication companies develop the technology needed to facilitate their ability to spy on suspected terrorists. Groups that support an open and free internet oppose the pending legislation, which the administration plans to introduce next year. Others claim that the requirements will thwart innovation and raise costs for small startup companies, many of whom became household names like Twitter and Facebook. Critics made the same predictions for telephone technology back in the 90’s, but those fears were never realized. Is the internet different? Should innovative technology companies be forced to create mechanisms to spy on their customers for the sake of protecting us from suspected terrorists?


Sascha Meinrath, Open Technology Initiative Director, New America Foundation

Susan Landau, fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and a former engineer at Sun Microsystems.

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