Essentially, officials want Congress to require all services that enable communications — including encrypted e-mail transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites like Facebook and software that allows direct “peer to peer” messaging like Skype — to be technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order. The mandate would include being able to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages.I understand the privacy concerns here, but I think they're overstated. This isn't an expansion of what can be tapped -- just bringing into compliance things that already. So while I opposed the Bush wiretapping extensions, I don't think that bringing ISPs into compliance.
The bill, which the Obama administration plans to submit to lawmakers next year, raises fresh questions about how to balance security needs with protecting privacy and fostering innovation. And because security services around the world face the same problem, it could set an example that is copied globally.
Moreover, the US government can't be responsible for setting a precedent that more dictatorial regimes might use for more nefarious purposes later: there is a degree of lawfulness that those regimes do not possess that makes invalid arguments for the need to wiretap dissidents, just in the same way that laws requiring a permit to march, when used overly strictly in Russia, are not the equivalent of similar laws in the US. Precedents are not necessarily equivalent, even using very similar laws.