The U.S. government has attempted to obtain the master encryption keys that Internet companies use to shield millions of users’ private Web communications from eavesdropping.

These demands for master encryption keys, which have not been disclosed previously, represent a technological escalation in the clandestine methods that the FBI and the National Security Agency employ when conducting electronic surveillance against Internet users.

If the government obtains a company’s master encryption key, agents could decrypt the contents of communications intercepted through a wiretap or by invoking the potent surveillance authorities of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Web encryption — which often appears in a browser with a HTTPS lock icon when enabled — uses a technique called SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer.
[...]
“The requests are coming because the Internet is very rapidly changing to an encrypted model,” a former Justice Department official said. “SSL has really impacted the capability of U.S. law enforcement. They’re now going to the ultimate application layer provider.”



  1. pedro says:

    Dayum! Found the video at WSJ http://live.wsj.com/video/techies-gather-for-hong-kong-hackathon/989EE1DD-C398-4438-8784-3BDEC73AD438.html#!989EE1DD-C398-4438-8784-3BDEC73AD438

    Could all this Snowden thing have been made to start linking hacking with being good & pro government and wipe out the definition of hackers & hacking? Either that or they just saw it as a great PR opportunity for doing so.

  2. MikeN says:

    Congress demanded that Mr Rumely provide him with his subscription list, threatening him with contempt of Congress. He said they can do whatever they want, but he was interested in free speech, and if they went forward he would provide them with a lesson on the Constitution.

    70 years ago.

  3. Say Kai Lee says:

    Shouldn’t that be Insecure Socket Layer? Just saying…