The FBI is currently in the process of trying to amend the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act to cover Web companies as well as telecommunications providers. The bureau is hoping to work with companies including Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Facebook in order to incorporate backdoors for wiretapping their services.
In the past, the FBI has worked to develop independent solutions for these firms, but, as Michael Donahue, a partner at Marashlian & Donahue, LLC, explained to us, the shrinking government budget poses a barrier going forward. The FBI has openly stated that this move wouldn’t allow it to expand its authority, but instead, it would give it the resources it needs to do its job more effectively, given the advancing technologies.
Although the FBI has yet to release a proposal, privacy and security advocates are already voicing concerns. With the reactions to both SOPA and CISPA, tech companies are likely to oppose the move as well.
However, Donahue told us that both sides are aware of the issues that exist. Furthermore, he believes they will take this understanding and develop a balanced framework as a result. He went on to say that he doubted any action would take place this year, since it is an election year, but he said we could likely expect some adjustments in the future.