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Tue, Sep. 28th, 2010, 12:32 am
mrvetinari: The king is dead... Hail to the king...

A new law is on the horizon, and not just in the "proposed by a staffer in some committee" but further along the legislative process than that, which will force software and ISP companies to build backdoors the feds can get to whenever they demand.

On the ISP side this is nothing too new. A family member of mine runs a rural ISP and cooperated with the authorities some years ago after a simple request. When I inquired why she did not request more official documentation... she explained that #1) Feds are intimidating, #2) The user in question was a pain in the ass, and #3) It is far easier to cooperate and make them go away than put up a costly fight.

Maybe not the beacon of idealogical purity, but I expect she IS representative of most of the ISP people out there.

What IS new is the idea that any service that provides encryption either has a backdoor for the feds (or the hacking community five minutes after the software is released) to use to get around any privacy features.

I have NO IDEA how this will be enforced. I can understand the commercial side, but... what about the open source software I have on my machine right now? Is this retro-actively illegal? Is the code itself contraband or does it have to be executable? I've always operated under the assumption that any traffic may be intercepted as it passes through someone's jurisdiction, either by people who have done the paperwork or by individuals that don't care. That is why TRULY important information we keep encrypted and are hesitant to put online anyhow.

I almost think that the "backdoor hackability" thing is a feature rather than a bug. Imagine if politicians/activists opposed to X all had their personal records hacked and leaked by untrackable individuals. This makes a great leverage to those who hold the keys to the backdoors out there.

If there is one area where this administration has let his supporters down more than any other, it is stopping the expansion of the police state. The three areas where we lost so much freedom since 2000 (Communications, Torture, Disappearances) have all become BIGGER problems than they were since then.

On a practical level, what are we supposed to do software wise?