FBI Net-wiretapping rules face challenges

Where to begin? In tribute to Joe Friday let’s go with the “Just the facts” approach.

The FCC has come down with the ruling on the
Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act and Broadband Access and Services”:

“SUMMARY: In this document, the Federal Communications Commission
(Commission) adopts a rule establishing that providers of facilities-based broadband Internet access services and providers of interconnected voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services–meaning VoIP service that allows a user generally to receive calls originating from and to terminate calls to the public switched telephone network (PSTN)–must comply with the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA). This new rule will enhance public safety and ensure that the surveillance needs of law enforcement agencies continue to be met as Internet-based communications technologies proliferate.”

Tsu’s Alternate Summary: If it talks you can tap it.

Oh how the Federales are luvin this. But darn it, someone remembered that CALEA wasn’t intended to extend to internet services. Proof? How about a House of Representatives report that states,

“The bill is clear that telecommunications services that support the transport or switching of communications for private networks or for the sole purpose of interconnecting telecommunications carriers (these would include long distance carriage) need not meet any any wiretap standards. PBXs are excluded. So are automated teller machine (ATM) networks and other closed networks. Also excluded from coverage are all information services, such as Internet service providers or services such as Prodigy and America-On-Line.
All of these private network systems or information services can be wiretapped pursuant to court order, and their owners must cooperate when presented with a wiretap order, but these services and systems do not have to be designed so as to comply with the capability requirements.”

Thankfully the EFF, telecommunications firms, nonprofit organizations and educators are asking the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., to overturn this abomination. It’s bad for business, bad for innovation, bad for privacy, great for Big Brother. Thank goodness someone was on point for this.

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