FBI Asks for Legislation to Monitor Entire Internet
Microsoft Agrees to Modify Operating Systems to Comply, In Exchange for an End to All Litigation
NEW YORK /DenounceNewswire/ -- 18 July 1998 -- The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has asked a Senate committee to add language to a Justice Department appropriations bill to require a number of high-tech companies, including Microsoft Corporation, to provide law enforcement personnel with real-time access to the data that flows into and out of personal computers connected to the Internet. Microsoft announced that it would fully support the bill, including the FBI provisions, in exchange for a permanent end to the government's antitrust litigation against the company as well as the ability for Microsoft to also have access to the Internet data. The government agreed. "It's a good deal for America," says Attorney General Janet Reno, "and we have Microsoft's promise that they will use the data only to improve their products, which will benefit every consumer."
The bill, which would go into effect next Friday, would enable law enforcement (and Microsoft) to essentially "tap at will" any Internet connection in the United States, if not the world. Bureau experts claim the tapping would slow down the average user's Internet connection "by only 20 per cent," which they believe will be "more than acceptable considering the increase in criminal prosecution which will result from the tapping."
Microsoft explained that it would modify every copy of Windows 95, NT, and Windows 98, automatically without customer intervention, such that every byte of data sent or received by the computer would be copied and sent to the FBI's central clearinghouse for inspection followed by approval or prosecution. "We've been anticipating this move for years, so the mechanisms in our operating systems have been in place since 1994 for this eventuality," said Bill Gates of Microsoft.
Internet content-blocking companies, including the makers of NetNanny, CyberSitter, and SurfWatch, expressed outrage at the bill. "If the government does the censorship then consumers won't need our software, and that puts us out of business," said a NetNanny spokester.
Indu Strypundit, an industry pundit occasionally asked to provide a pithy quip of commentary at generally this point in a Denounce story, was unavailable for comment, as he was packing and moving to, sources say, an undisclosed island in the Pacific.
Asked if this bill would, in effect, "kill" what's left of the beleaguered Bill of Rights, FBI Director Louis Freeh said, "What's that?" upon which it was explained to him what the Bill of Rights was, to which he replied, "Oh, well, that explains it, that document is over 200 years old, now tell me, how is that relevant in today's society?" upon which it was explained to him why the document was still relevant but he wasn't convinced, said he was busy, and took no further questions.
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