Fresh off the embarrassing revelations of tapping U.S. phone calls and monitoring the web, the Obama administration is reportedly demanding the passwords to the web accounts of the American people without a warrant or notice to the users.
According to Cnet.com, two unidentified sources claim that major Internet companies are being ordered by the U.S. government to turn over their users' secret passwords.
If the U.S. government could gain people's passwords it could easily impersonate him or her, and read confidential information.
"I've certainly seen them ask for passwords. We push back," said one Internet industry source.
A second Silicon Valley source confirmed there were legal requests from the U.S. government for passwords. In response, the source says: "There's a lot of 'over my dead body.'"
Additionally, the U.S. government wants everyone's encryption algorithm and the "salt," a string of letters or numbers that make it difficult to reverse the encryption process and find the original password.
Microsoft was asked by Cnet.com if it would give up passwords, salts, or algorithms. A company spokesperson stated: "No, we don't, and we can't see a circumstance in which we would provide it."
A Google spokesperson said the search engine giant has "never" turned over a user's encrypted password and added: "We take the privacy and security of our users very seriously."
Other large internet companies (websites and ISPs) did not answer Cnet.com's questions.