Security experts warn government is making the Internet unsafe

Josh Peterson Tech Editor
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Government-mandated software vulnerabilities would make computers and the Internet a lot less safe, warned a coalition of 20 computer-security experts.

The FBI has warned of its “Going Dark” problem for several years, a scenario under which law enforcement loses its ability to electronically track criminal suspects because of inadequate legal tools as well as a lack of cooperation from service providers.

The federal government is looking for ways to remedy this problem.

The creation of mandated vulnerabilities — holes, basically — in the consumer-facing software of companies like Facebook would allow federal law enforcement to monitor suspects.

Staking their claim in a report (.pdf) released at the end of last week, the security experts argued that these vulnerabilities would also be exploited by criminals and foreign agents, leaving people, corporations and government agencies at risk of fraud, theft and all manner of serious exploitation.

In a nutshell, hackers look for vulnerabilities by which they can enter and take control of a computer system, and the government would require exactly such vulnerabilities.

The reports authors hailed from The Tor Project, Princeton University, Silent Circle, and so forth.

“Requiring software vendors to build intercept functionality into their products is unwise and will be ineffective, with the result being serious consequences for the economic well-being and national security of the United States,” they wrote.

“These experts are on the front lines trying to make the Internet more secure,” said Center for Democracy & Technology President Leslie Harris.

“When they say the FBI proposal would open up security vulnerabilities, Washington should listen,” said Harris. “At the very time the nation is so worried about cybersecurity,” she said, “we should not be making computers, software, and networks weaker.”

The FBI declined The Daily Caller’s request for comment.

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