FBI, NSA Want Master Encryption Keys from Internet Companies
July 25, 2013 7:06 PM
comment(s) - last by
The question of whether it's legal for them to ask for these SSL keys or not is unclear
The feds are trying to creep further into the personal lives of Web users by requesting master encryption keys from Internet companies.
According to a new report from
, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National Security Agency (NSA) have both tried to obtain master encryption keys as part of their
digital surveillance efforts
, but there's a huge question as to whether they have the legal authority to do so.
Master encryption keys are crucial to Web encryption. They put contents of Web communications into code that is tough to crack using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). If government agencies were to get their hands on these SSL keys, they could decode the content and peek into the lives of Internet users.
The NSA is also looking to get these SSL keys because it would allow for surveillance through its fiber taps, which are now heavily guarded by SSL.
SSL was originally put in place because of insecure and open Wi-Fi networks. Google adopted HTTPS (which appears in the browser to show that SSL is enabled -- back in 2010 for Gmail, and Microsoft did the same for Hotmail. Later in 2012, Facebook followed suit for its popular social network.
Now, these large Internet companies face the fear of government agencies trying to obtain the SSL keys and expose information on their users. Microsoft, Google and Facebook all said that they haven't given any SSL keys to the government, and agreed that they would fight against doing so.
Other larger companies like Apple, Verizon, AT&T, Yahoo, Comcast and AOL haven't said if they've been asked for or have given SSL keys to the feds.
But the larger companies fear that smaller Web establishments without deep pockets or a hefty legal department will give in to the government's requests for keys.
SSL has certainly hindered the government's spying abilities, which is why they're coming directly to the source for the keys. But if all else fails, the feds have other avenues of
getting what they need
. For instance, companies like Packet Forensics help government agencies import "legitimate" copies of SSL keys -- which could possibly be obtained through a court order -- for spying on users.
Speaking of a court order, it's not clear whether federal surveillance laws allow the government to ask for SSL keys -- even with subpoenas. Subpoenas call for gathering evidence related to an investigation, where SSL keys would seem to open up a treasure trove of data that may contain pieces of information relevant to an investigation, but likely most that are not.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
RE: Too little too late
7/26/2013 3:06:22 PM
He's like every politician before him... lies to get in... lies while in.... lies on the way out.... and lies in the autobiography.
"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer
NSA Spying Fallout Hits Defcon, Hackers Tell Feds to Stay Away
July 12, 2013, 9:00 AM
Source: Don't Worry, NSA Spies on "99 Percent" of Americans' Locations, Call Records
June 14, 2013, 3:57 PM
FCC Orders Advertisers to Cut Out That Racket, Turn Down Commercials
August 29, 2014, 12:49 PM
Dropbox Bows to Competitive Pressure, Provides 1TB of Storage for $10/Month
August 27, 2014, 11:17 AM
Amazon Acquires Twitch for $970 Million
August 25, 2014, 4:37 PM
Facebook Adds Satire Tags to Its Auto-Generated "Related News" Posts
August 18, 2014, 10:43 AM
Comcast, TWC Pull Dinner Gift for FCC Commissioner... Sort Of
August 15, 2014, 1:10 PM
Comcast Accused of Wooing FCC Commissioner w/ $110K Dinner
August 13, 2014, 8:20 PM
Most Popular Articles
Microsoft's Surface 2 Tablet Family Gets a $100 Price Cut
August 25, 2014, 1:16 AM
Owner of "Decepticon" Maserati Ordered to Appear in Court This Thursday
August 25, 2014, 7:55 AM
SpaceX Falcon 9-R Rocket Suffers Malfunction, Self-Destructs During Test Flight
August 23, 2014, 9:36 AM
LG Posts Teaser Video of Its “Round Face” G Watch R Smartwatch, Set for IFA Lauch
August 24, 2014, 2:49 PM
Windows 9: "Upgrade Now" Button Coming for Enterprise Updates, ARM Preview in H1 2015
August 26, 2014, 8:00 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Space Terrorism is a Looming Threat For the United States
Apr 23, 2014, 7:47 PM
Facebook Aims to Provide Internet to "Every Person in the World" with Drones, Satellites
Apr 1, 2014, 10:20 AM
Retail Mobile Sites Experience Outages in Light of Simplexity's Bankruptcy
Mar 14, 2014, 8:48 AM
Tesla vs. BMW: Who Has the Safer EV?
Feb 1, 2014, 2:56 PM
Justice Leaks Details of Next HTC One Two Flagship Phone
Dec 5, 2013, 4:04 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information