For those who’ve never heard of him Bruce Schneier is a cryptography expert (notably created the Blowfish block cipher and Solitaire stream cipher). He authors a good blog on info security issues and recently had a post about Obama’s internet wiretapping proposal. This is a bad idea for all sorts of reasons and Schneier does a good job outlining the risks. CPAs, especially those in IT audit functions, should pay attention to how this issue progresses as this could have substantial compliance ramifications for clients in all industries.
Yes, communications technologies are used by both the good guys and the bad guys. But the good guys far outnumber the bad guys, and it’s far more valuable to make sure they’re secure than it is to cripple them on the off chance it might help catch a bad guy. It’s like the FBI demanding that no automobiles drive above 50 mph, so they can more easily pursue getaway cars. It might or might not work – but, regardless, the cost to society of the resulting slowdown would be enormous. It’s bad civic hygiene to build technologies that could someday be used to facilitate a police state. No matter what the eavesdroppers say, these systems cost too much and put us all at greater risk.