Civic News
Federal government / Public safety

There’s a movement to add ‘eavesdropping backdoors’ on all software: JHU professor

By now much of the U.S. reading and tweeting public is familiar with PRISM, the program (formerly known as top-secret) through which the Maryland-based National Security Agency collects file transfers, live chats and the contents of people’s e-mails by directly accessing the servers of such companies as Google, Facebook, Apple, Skype and more. Such companies […]

By now much of the U.S. reading and tweeting public is familiar with PRISM, the program (formerly known as top-secret) through which the Maryland-based National Security Agency collects file transfers, live chats and the contents of people’s e-mails by directly accessing the servers of such companies as Google, Facebook, Apple, Skype and more.
Such companies were quick to disassociate themselves with PRISM, claiming they had never heard of the program. But what’s the impact of PRISM?
As of right now, there is none, says Matthew Green, encryption expert and associate professor in Johns Hopkins University‘s Department of Computer Science and the Information Security Institute. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t cause for concern.
He explains in this Q&A:

Right now the real concern comes from a set of related measures that we refer to as CALEA II. This refers to a set of proposals designed to address the “problem” of end-to-end encrypted communications, possibly by adding “backdoors” to voice and IM software with this capability.
We learned from the PRISM slide deck that some services (like Skype and PalTalk) already have some kind of wiretap capability. There seems to be a movement in Washington to mandate such eavesdropping backdoors on all software, even possibly in open source software. This would obviously extend the eavesdropping capabilities in PRISM and would make it very difficult to hide from government eavesdropping.

Companies: Bio-Rad Laboratories / Apple / Facebook / U.S. Government / Google / Skype

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