FBI angling to fine companies that don’t comply with real-time surveillance orders

By Stephen C. Webster
Monday, April 29, 2013 16:13 EDT
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A spy keeps his lips sealed. Photo: Shutterstock.com, all rights reserved.
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A bill being written by an FBI-led task force would impose fines on tech firms that resist real-time wiretapping orders, The Washington Post reported Sunday night.

Sources speaking off the record reportedly told the paper that the legislation is among the bureau’s top priorities this year, spurred by investigators’ frustrations at not being able to access some communications as they’re occurring. Those frustrations began in 2010 when Google encrypted its users’ communications, the Post noted. Facebook was soon to follow.

It’s not clear what sort of support such a proposal would get in Congress, where industry groups would almost certainly oppose it, joined by the same activists who successfully defeated the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) at the beginning of 2012.

It’s also not clear whether the bill has the support of President Barack Obama, who’s previously threatened to veto major cyber security legislation out of a stated concern for safeguarding individual privacy.

The Post notes that the FBI committee’s draft proposal would see a court impose fines on non-compliant companies that start “at tens of thousands of dollars” and escalate the longer they remain unpaid, doubling every 24 hours beyond the first 90 days.

Photo: Shutterstock.com, all rights reserved.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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