Homeland Stupidity

FBI to control what software you can run?

In an obscure policy decision published last Friday, the FCC decided that the FBI would have veto power over what software Americans can run on their computers.

The Federal Communications Commission thinks you have the right to use software on your computer only if the FBI approves.

No, really. In an obscure “policy” document (PDF) released around 9 p.m. ET last Friday, the FCC announced this remarkable decision.

According to the three-page document, to preserve the openness that characterizes today’s Internet, “consumers are entitled to run applications and use services of their choice, subject to the needs of law enforcement.” Read the last seven words again. — VoIP Blog

This is truly dangerous territory we’re getting into here. This sort of ruling could, for instance, cripple open source software, which isn’t likely to contain the sort of accommodations that American law enforcement agencies will ask for.

In particular, the FCC wants VoIP computer software to contain backdoors so that the FBI or other agencies can listen in to your phone calls whenever they want. That’s today. Who’s to say what they will ask for tomorrow?

Declan McCullagh continues: “But where federal law states that it is the policy of the United States to preserve a free market for Internet services ‘unfettered by federal or state regulation,’ the bureaucrats have adroitly interpreted that to mean precisely the opposite of [what] Congress said. Ain’t that clever?”

That’s what federal bureaucrats do: grab power. It’s about time we got the FCC out of the Internet.