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Building in Big Brother, from The Netly News
The Netly News Network (http://netlynews.com/)
September 10, 1997
Building in Big Brother
By Declan McCullagh ([email protected])
The U.S. Congress, bowing to law enforcement demands for more
wiretap powers, is preparing to approve a scheme that endangers the
personal freedom of every American.
Nobody doubts that wiretaps are useful tools for law enforcement
agents. FBI Director Louis Freeh, who as a young agent built his
career on them, knows this well.
But Freeh's plan would expand the FBI's eavesdropping ability by
building Big Brother into every word processor, every e-mail program
and every web browser. All computer software distributed after 1998
would have a special, secret backdoor for government access to your
most private files. Even your Internet provider would be deputized as
a cyber-snoop. It's the technological equivalent of requiring that
every homeowner turn over a spare copy of his front door key to the
This is the same FBI that has a long and disturbing history of
abusing Americans' privacy. As director, J. Edgar Hoover built a
successful career out of illegal wiretaps, secret files and political
blackmail. Hoover despised Martin Luther King, Jr. -- branding him an
"obsessive degenerate" -- and once sent him an anonymous letter, using
information gathered through illegal surveillance, to encourage the
depressed civil rights leader to commit suicide. Hoover's legacy?
Having the FBI headquarters bear his name today.