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    NYT: Iraqi Accuses U.S. of 'D..., 2006-06-02 11:36:52 | Main | state of the class war..., 2006-06-05 15:47:53

    tapping your VOIP:

    the U.S. Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act of 1994, or CALEA, which mandates that all new telephone company gear must be wiretap-friendly, or "CALEA compliant" ... the Federal Communications Commission has declared itself competent to expand the act to cover voice over internet protocol outfits and internet service providers as well. This expansion has been challenged in federal court, and the conflict has boiled down to a simple phrase in the law, exempting providers of "information services" (as opposed to communications services) from CALEA obligations. The Department of Justice, ever eager for opportunities to plug law enforcement into the internet at the most basic levels, claims that ISPs, like telephone companies, are communications services, on grounds that instant messaging, VOIP and e-mail constitute a significant replacement for traditional telecommunications.

    The FCC is in complete agreement with the Justice Department, and has issued its demand for compliance by May 14, 2007. The case, currently on appeal, is pending in a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., where, comically, one judge characterized the FCC's legal arguments as "gobbledygook." Thus it's possible that only VOIP services that use the public switched telephone network will be covered by the CALEA, leaving peer-to-peer VOIP outfits and ISPs in the clear.

    Happens its the same Supreme Court case that initiated both the present re-regulation of the telecommunications laws and decided the above issue rather definitively: in the courts VOIP is most definitely going to be considered an "information service".

    The reclassification of the service as information rather than telecommunication is why we're going through another round of re-regulation (the 1930s act survived for 70 years, the 1996 act made it a decade: I think this might stand as a testament to the fact that the laws are getting shittier as we move ahead). Privacy hounds also have a beef in this fight to prevent the expansion of the wiretapping powers into the new body of information service law presently being smudged together in the halls of Congre$$.

    Not that having a law against it would prevent them from doing it anyway, or, as a re-seller of CALEA compliant equipment drinking buddy says:

    "Do you think this stuff doesn't happen in the West? Let me tell you something. I sell this equipment all over the world, especially in the Middle East. I deal with buyers from Qatar, and I get more concern about proper legal procedure from them than I get in the USA. The NSA is using this stuff. The DEA, the Secret Service, the CIA. Are you kidding me? They don't answer to you. They do whatever the hell they want with it. Are you really that naive? Now leave these guys alone; they make a product, that's all. It's nothing to them what happens afterward. You really need to educate yourself."


:: posted by buermann @ 2006-06-02 12:42:10 CST | link





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