WASHINGTON, April 11 (UPI) -- U.S. National Security Agency officials
are concerned about a computer phone call service owned by eBay.
EBay, the online auction house, last year purchased Skype, an online
service that lets people converse through their computers. Its 75
million users place voice calls over the Internet. The calls sound
clear. They are free, because phone carriers aren't used. And because
of the Internet's diffused architecture and its facility for privacy,
Skypesters' identities, their locations, and the substance of their
conversations can be undetectable.
Skype and other widely used Internet communications devices, including
e-mail, threaten the NSA's ability to gather intelligence and to do so
legally, National Journal reported Monday.
For more than four years, without warrants and by order of President
George W. Bush, the NSA has hunted for terrorists by intercepting
communications between people in the United States and people abroad
suspected of links to terrorism.
The legality of that order is being hotly debated in Congress. Bush
says that the 27-year-old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which
governs domestic eavesdropping for intelligence purposes, doesn't
adequately address Internet-based communications.
However, in the opinion of some legal scholars and intelligence
practitioners, lawmakers haven't faced this fact. Until they do, the
NSA remains on shaky legal ground and at a strategic disadvantage
against terrorists, who may rely on the Internet above all other tools
for plotting their attacks, National Journal said.
When FISA became law in 1978, even rudimentary e-mail was years away
from use. The law "did not anticipate the development of global
communications networks," Kim Taipale, a technology law scholar and a
member of the Task Force on National Security in the Information Age,
a nonpartisan panel supported by the Markle Foundation that has
produced assessments of technology's role in counter-terrorism, told
=A9 Copyright 2006 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved
LayerOne 2006 : Pasadena Hilton : Pasadena, CA
Infomation Security and Technology Conference