US government officials are reportedly prepping legislation that will require web companies to put backdoor wiretapping capabilities used by the FBI into their websites.
According to The Washington Post, the legislation would affect companies like Google and Facebook. FBI officials say the proposed legislation would allow them to tap into the web communications of supposed terrorists.
However, web advocacy groups fear the backdoor implementation could cause risk to security and stifle innovation.
"Implementing such access would be cumbersome when not impossible, and the system would instantly become a target for cyber security intrusions," said Ed Black, president and chief executive officer of the Computer & Communications Industry Association.
"All of these impacts would fall disproportionately on small businesses that don't have the resources of the larger companies."
The proposed legislation would require major web-based companies to offer law enforcement backdoor capabilities to implement wiretaps. If companies do not build out the tool they stand to be fined as part of the legislation.
Proposed legislation would come as an amendment to the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA). The bill was introduced in 1994 to clearly state what a private telecommunications firm's responsibilities are when dealing with law enforcement agencies.
Bill opponents say the legislation would be ineffective if approved. According to Center for Democracy & Technology senior staff technologist Joe Hall, the bill doesn't fix the problem as bad actors would be able to hide their identity online.
"The sad irony is that this is likely to be ineffective. Building a communications tool today is a homework project for undergraduates," said Hall. "So much is based on open source and can be readily customised. Criminals and other bad actors will simply use homemade communication services based offshore, making them even harder to monitor."
US authorities have continued to look for ways to better access online information for criminal cases. Along with the proposed wiretapping laws, the Senate is expected to vote on a revised CISPA bill later this year.
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