Don't Let the FBI Use CALEA to Track Americans, Says UmeNow CEO

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"There's nothing wrong with asserting your privacy. Privacy is as apple-pie as the Constitution," wrote Philip Zimmermann in 1991, the creator of Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), the most widely used email encryption software in the world.

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Today, we need more people like Philip Zimmermann, who created PGP. He is a great American hero. Unlike him, today too many tech people silently watch to see who will win -- privacy or a surveillance cyber-police state.

UmeNow announced today that it wants the U.S. Senate to hold public hearings so the FBI can explain to the American public why CALEA should be amended to force social networks and other Internet-based companies to build side doors for the FBI to track people's private communication.

CNET has reported that the FBI is asking Internet-based companies not to oppose a proposal to require firms like Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, and Google to build in backdoors for government surveillance. Currently, CALEA only applies to telecommunications providers, not Web companies. The Federal Communications Commission extended CALEA in 2004 to apply to broadband networks. If CALEA is amended per FBI request, it would require social-networking Web sites and providers of VoIP, instant messaging, and Web e-mail to alter their code to ensure their products are wiretap-friendly.

"The FBI has an obligation to honor and uphold our constitution. Law enforcement by surveillance and tracking is technologically easy to do. Therein lies the great danger. Where does it stop? Should we track people inside their homes too with cameras and microphones? Undoubtedly many secrets reside behind residential closed doors," stated Evelyn Castillo-Bach, founder and CEO of UmeNow, a private social network that has banned all tracking.

The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) passed in 1994 mandated that phone companies install remote wiretapping ports so federal agents could monitor court-ordered wiretaps from their offices without attaching alligator clips to phone lines. A year after the CALEA passed, the FBI disclosed plans to require the phone companies to build into their infrastructure the capacity to simultaneously wiretap one percent of all phone calls in all major U.S. cities.

Philip Zimmermann, the creator of Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), has stated, "It's hard to see how the government could even employ enough judges to sign enough wiretap orders to wiretap one percent of all our phone calls, much less hire enough federal agents to sit and listen to all that traffic in real time. The only plausible way of processing that amount of traffic is a massive Orwellian application of automated voice recognition technology to sift through it all, searching for interesting keywords or searching for a particular speaker's voice.... This plan sparked such outrage that it was defeated in Congress. But the mere fact that the FBI even asked for these broad powers is revealing of their agenda."

Prior to CALEA, the U.S. Senate tried to pass anti-crime legislation in 1991 known as Bill 266. It contained a resolution to force companies to insert special "trap doors" in their products, so government could read anyone's encrypted messages. It prompted Zimmermann to publish PGP electronically for free that year, shortly before the proposed bill was defeated following vigorous protest by civil libertarians and industry groups. Today PGP is the most widely used email encryption software in the world. Zimmerman is also known for his work in VoIP encryption protocols, notably ZRTP and Zfone.

"Today, we need more people like Philip Zimmermann. He is one of those great American heroes who did what was right. Unlike him, today too many tech people silently watch to see who will win -- privacy or a surveillance cyber-police state," stated Castillo-Bach, known among her followers as Privacy Mom.

Company Information:
UmeNow has a 2-tier membership structure. Anyone may join for free and enjoy many of the site features. Free members and subscribed members receive the same level of privacy protection. Premium level members who subscribe for $6.00/ month have access to all site areas.

Evelyn Castillo-Bach is the founder of UmeNow and Collegiate Nation. UmeNow entered into its silent launch in July 2011. Collegiate Nation--also known as GoCNCN.com-- is the first and only private network exclusively for college students. Castillo-Bach was interviewed earlier this year by Miami television to address privacy issues impacting college students.

Both UmeNow.com and Collegiate Nation are known for fiercely protecting the privacy rights of its members. All ads, third party apps and games are banned because they are back doors to tracking and extracting private information. Castillo-Bach earned her M.S. in 1993 from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She has traveled extensively in Ethiopia and in the Balkans, accompanying her Danish husband who is a lawyer.

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