By MATTHEW FORDAHL AP Technology Writer
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- In the past, intercepting communications
meant just that _ copying a telegram mid-route, steaming open an
envelope or attaching alligator clips to the copper wires that
connected every telephone in the world. But the old ways of
communicating are heading into the sunset like the Pony Express and
being replaced by phone calls, instant messages, e-mail and more that
are converted into digital data before they gallop across the Internet
and other advanced networks.
This constant interchange of massive amounts of data, converging into
speeding bitstreams on common pipes, is both a blessing and a curse
It's easier than ever to access wholesale feeds of data. But such
work is also more controversial than traditional wiretapping, as seen
in objections to post-9/11 warrantless domestic surveillance and to
regulatory moves to require networks to be tap-friendly.
Critics question whether safeguards put in place a quarter century ago
following FBI wiretapping misconduct are strong enough to prevent
abuse in the 21st century. Others fear the information superhighway is
turning out to be a fast path to mass surveillance.
[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: This major report by Associated Press
appeared in much media over the weekend. This summary from Lycos,
presented by Monty Solomon also appears in full elsewhere in this
issue of TELECOM Digest today. PAT]