Should the Internet Be Wiretapped?

Officials say their ability to wiretap suspects is "going dark."


In response to arguments made by federal law enforcement and national security officials that their efforts to wiretap criminal and terrorism suspects is " going dark" in the Internet age, the Obama administration is working to submit a bill to lawmakers next year that would enact broad new regulations. The issue at hand is that officials want Congress to require all services that enable communications--such as encrypted E-mail transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites like Facebook, and messaging software like Skype--to be technically capable of complying if they are served with a wiretap order. Officials must then be able to intercept and unscramble their encrypted messages. Law enforcement officials say it is a necessary step to prevent erosion of their investigative powers; others question whether the regulations would invade people's privacy. James Dempsey, vice president of the Center for Democracy and Technology, an Internet policy group, said the proposal would have "huge implications." "They basically want to turn back the clock and make Internet services function the way that the telephone system used to function,” he told the New York Times. [Read more about terrorism and national security.]

What do you think? Would imposing such a mandate be a step backward, or do the ends justify the means? Take our poll and post your thoughts below.

This poll is now closed, but the debate continues in the comments section.

Previously: Is Lady Gaga Hurting the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Fight?