When the feds say 'Trust us,' it's time to check your wallet – and your phone.

February 7, 2006

2 Min Read
Tap Dancing

9:25 AM -- It's too much trouble for the NSA to obtain warrants before eavesdropping on possible evildoers, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told the Senate Judiciary Committee this morning, describing the Bush Administration's secret warrant-free wiretapping program to an audience of hostile Senators from both sides of the aisle. Calling such legal niceties "cumbersome and bothersome," Gonzales was there not to debate the legality or efficacy of the program, which has been declared unconstitutional by just about every independent legal expert who's examined it, but simply to repeat what President Bush already said in his State of the Union address last week: It's legal because we say it is.

It goes without saying that the dangers of government eavesdropping (not to mention listening-in by other nefarious characters) escalate disturbingly as we move to a wirelessly networked society. Think that's alarmist? Consider a few news items from just the last couple of days:

  • AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), MCI LLC , and Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) all agreed to cooperate with the National Security Agency's spying without warrants on international calls by suspected terrorists, USA Today reported Monday.

  • Using a controversial state-of-the-art cellular monitoring technology, Missouri Department of Transportation officials will begin using drivers’ cell phone signals this summer to monitor traffic patterns in the Columbia area. (Thanks to Fierce Wireless for this link.)

  • Even before the law on requiring networking companies to build "back doors" for wiretapping access into their hardware goes into effect, giants like Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) and Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR) are already rushing to obey.

It's going to get worse before it gets better -- while the executive branch assures us that it's okay, we know what we're doing, trust us.

— Richard Martin, Senior Editor, Unstrung

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