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a cryptographic deal with the devil
It is widely believed that the Police, the FBI, and other government
agencies tap many more phones than they admit in public. This is
not counting the NSA's monitoring of all the international traffic
they can stuff into a computer.
Now the FBI wants telephone switch manufactures to supply them
with desktop phone tapping technology. Real-time delivery of all
conversations straight to the agent's desk. This is scary, but it might
Given that congress is likely to eventually allow the FBI this tech toy,
would you go along with a deal that all taps would really require a
court order and that the exact time and location of all taps would
eventually be made public? No cheating possible.
I believe such an compromise may be possible via cyptographic
technology, I've not worked out the details, but here is a sketch
of the idea.
The legislation authorizing the tapping facilities would require that each tap
be activated by a key supplied by a court. Each tap
would require a new key. The switching gear would not only
enforce the key mechanism, but transmit a record of the tap to some
agency outside the court system. Both the courts and this
agency would be required to periodically make public all old taps.
Part of this information would include tamper-proof sequence codes and
signatures to guarantee that all taps were in fact reported.
The law would effectively be enforced by the switch hardware. We
would not only know how many phones were tapped, but whose
phones were tapped. This last would pose a privacy problem, The law could just
require tappees being eventually informed of the
invasion of their lives, rather than public disclosure.
* We consent to the process, it legitimates phone taps.
* The hardware would be in place for massive monitoring of
communications if the government could get the public to
accept dropping the limitations of the scheme. [It might
be possible to limit the abuse by having the switches
communicate and not accept anymore than a 1,000 taps a
* The lobbying for this would be difficult.
* By proposing and lobbying for this type of scheme, it could
be made obvious that the cops and mega cops want to maintain
much closer surveillance than they are willing to admit. However,
you'd have to be prepared for them to accept the compromise. They
may figure on making all their illegal taps via other means.