Expert calls for better web surveillance of al-Qaida

December 3rd, 2008 - 2:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Dec 3 (IANS) Improve current surveillance to “watch, read and listen for cues emanating from al-Qaida and its regional franchises, largely on the Internet,” according to Chris Bronk of Rice University.Bronk is a security expert and fellow in technology, society and public policy at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.

The concept of wiretapping is obsolete, Bronk said, because Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) allows two-way voice communications over the Internet.

“Effective wiretapping,” Bronk wrote, “is web-tapping, listening to (and reading and watching) everything transmitted in digital form.”

Bronk traced the evolution of eavesdropping from attaching a listening device to a telephone wire to computer-enabled listening to monitor the latest Internet communications.

Technological progress, according to Bronk, often leaves government snoops playing catch-up. Besides tracking potential threats, Bronk noted, US officials are also charged with defending cyberspace from infiltration, according to a Rice release.

Bronk said the current debate on government surveillance is “bogged down in descriptive terminology from another time, nearly a century old.”

“With scepticism of government in the US clearly part of the political terrain, the wiretapping/information-security issue requires greater scrutiny, albeit in a manner that does not compromise the all-important sources and methods of intelligence collection or cyberdefence,” he said.

These findings were published on First Monday, a free, openly accessible, peer-reviewed journal devoted to the Internet.

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