US president Barack Obama has issued an executive order, enabling the government to take over all private communications in the country under the pretext of ensuring national security.
Released on Friday, the controversial executive order entitled “Assignment of National Security and Emergency Preparedness Communications Functions” allows federal agencies to take control of wired and wireless communications during situations they consider critical in order to reach anyone in the country.
“The Federal Government must have the ability to communicate at all times and under all circumstances to carry out its most critical and time sensitive missions,” Obama said in the order.
“Survivable, resilient, enduring and effective communications, both domestic and international, are essential to enable the executive branch to communicate within itself and with: the legislative and judicial branches; State, local, territorial and tribal governments; private sector entities; and the public, allies and other nations,” the president added.
He reasoned that by controlling private communications the executive branch would be able to “ensure national security, effectively manage emergencies and improve national resilience.”
In order to ensure that the order is implemented, a high-level committee including representatives from the Department of Homeland Security, the Pentagon, Federal Communications Commission and other federal agencies will be established.
This comes as privacy advocacy groups have expressed deep concerns over the new order, saying that it gives the government exceptional control over wired and wireless private networks in the US.