A coalition of tech associations and privacy groups Tuesday released a "statement of concern" about the FBI's proposals to expand a current law requiring communications providers to ensure law enforcement can conduct wiretaps on their networks.
The statement was released by a dozen groups including the Business Software Alliance, Center for Democracy and Technology, Computer and Communications Industry Association, the Net Coalition, and TechAmerica, and comes two days before a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing Thursday on ensuring lawful government surveillance with the rise of new technologies.
"Lawful electronic surveillance plays an important role in enabling government agencies to fulfill their obligations to stop crime and to protect national security," according to the statement from the groups. "These goals, however, must be reconciled with other important societal values, including cybersecurity, privacy, free speech, innovation and commerce."
The statement calls on the FBI and the Obama administration to answer several questions before lawmakers consider any proposals to expand the law known as the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, which requires telecom providers to design wiretapping capabilities into their networks.
These questions include explaining what problems would expanding CALEA address, have alternatives to a new CALEA-like mandate been considered sufficiently, and have narrower approaches been pursued.
Once these questions are answered, the groups say any effort to expand CALEA must address several issues including preserving the trust of communication users, safeguarding cybersecurity, protecting innovation, continuing to allow the use of strong encryption without introducing new vulnerabilities, avoiding unfunded mandates, and anticipating international demands that may result from expanding U.S. surveillance laws.