As a response to the horrific act of terrorism that killed more than 120 people in Paris last week, the head of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has recommended that U.S. wiretapping laws be revised. Tom Wheeler, the current chairman of the FCC, told Congress on Tuesday that it could expand the meaning of “lawful intercept” and make wiretapping more comprehensive to aid law enforcement, according to the Washington Post.
Wheeler was referring to the limitations outlined by the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) passed in 1994, which allows for the “lawful intercept” of a suspect’s phone and Internet activity. “One of the issues here is the question of, ‘What is a lawful intercept?’ something the Congress can define,” Wheeler said. “You did it in CALEA. Things have moved on since then…You read in the press that [the attackers] were using PlayStation 4 games to communicate on, which is outside the scope of anything considered in CALEA, so there’s probably opportunities to update the ‘lawful intercept’ concept.”
While the PlayStation 4 claims have since been quashed, the tragic events of last Friday have stirred up chatter about whether tech giants like Apple and Google need to offer access to encrypted smartphone data–an idea those companies have rejected in the past, citing privacy and cybercrime concerns. The issue has already been a talking point for presidential candidates like Hillary Clinton and Marco Rubio, as well.
Legislators have expressed interest in Wheeler’s suggestions, the Washington Post reports, but have not taken a stance just yet. If changes were made to wiretapping laws, law enforcement could potentially strong-arm tech companies into deciphering encrypted content.
[via The Verge]