The feebs also want to have the ability to apply these screw-the-local-judge warrants to big ol' groups of computers instead of single PCs, based on the logic that very often evil PC wizards aren't using one MacBook, but exploiting a whole army of unsuspecting botnetted PCs. Thus, getting warrants for each machine makes about as much sense as a narcoleptic sniper.
I get that, but according to the Wall Street Journal (not exactly a bastion of libertarian political thinking), some judges have already granted warrants for this kind of thing as long as the FBI supplied compelling evidence. This move is really a way for the agency to build Sauron's all-seeing Internet eye, circumvent what it considers red tape and what we consider the Fourth Amendment, and violate Frodo and Sam like prison newbies.
Give us your data -- no, that is not a question
Now let's couple that with a new bill proposed by House Intelligence Chair Mike Rogers, a Republican from Michigan who is so conservative he probably refers to San Francisco as Deviantcrimetreehugger Town. His new FISA Transparency and Modernization Act has the potential to allow government agencies to ignore your firewall and encryption measures and simply force companies to hand over any and all user or customer data as long as the target is under "reasonable articulable [apparently, a real word] suspicion." Of course, the agency gets to define that state without any pesky outside interference.
If both items pass, then the FBI can crack your computer(s) under any vague pretext it dreams up, then write a secret memo detailing what it decides it doesn't like about you and never disclose it due to "national security reasons," yet use it to demand all data in your digital footprint from credit card statements to your friends-only Facebook diaries. From there, you'll be whisked off to a secret prison beneath a suspiciously successful White Castle in Omaha, where you'll be used as a waterboarding training aid to sociopaths and sadists harvested from the ranks of juvenile detention centers and pre-teen beauty pageant moms.
That's a little disturbing and, in my opinion, the constitutional equivalent of a dozen Titanics. It'd be more disturbing if I wasn't reasonably certain they're doing that already. This simply makes it legal, which I guess they figure means press pundits, civil liberties lawyers, and Aragorn will stop publicly vilifying them. But they'll stop thinking that when they hack into my Fascist Bastards file.
This article, "Sauron's all-seeing Internet eye moves two steps closer to reality," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, follow Cringely on Twitter, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.