Court fight ahead over VoIP wiretap ruling

Court fight ahead over VoIP wiretap ruling

Summary: Companies offering voice services over the Internet are likely to fight the FCC’s recent ruling that VoIP services are subject to wiretaps (PDF), just like traditional phone providers. Kurt Opsahl, an attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told TopTechNews, "It's likely, because it really stretches the [Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA)] statute to the breaking point," he told TopTechNews.

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Companies offering voice services over the Internet are likely to fight the FCC’s recent ruling that VoIP services are subject to wiretaps (PDF), just like traditional phone providers. Kurt Opsahl, an attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told TopTechNews, "It's likely, because it really stretches the [Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA)] statute to the breaking point," he told TopTechNews. "Companies have 18 months to comply. There's plenty of time for this to go to a court before any of the serious deadlines arrive."

Last week the FCC ruled that under CALEA VoIP providers were replacements for traditional phone services that are required to allow wiretaps under the Communications Act. Even though providers of Internet services like voice are not covered by the Communications Act, the FCC decided that as replacements for the older system, VoIP services are to be treated the same as the switched telephone network.

The argument of Opsahl and other critics of the ruling is that the FCC has inappropriately redefined Internet providers as telecommunication carriers. “It’s going to endanger privacy and stifle innovation,” Opsahl said. John Morris, staff counsel for the Center for Democracy and Technology, a lobbying group, said, "The technology innovation may get offshored so innovation can happen in the test-tube environment of the Internet," he said.

The ruling was issued in response to a request from the Dept. of Justice, the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Agency.

CDT and EFF also filed comments against an FCC proposal to require monitoring of in-flight cellphone calls and Internet communication.

Topics: Unified Comms, Browser, Government, Government US, Mobility

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  • Change US leaders before it's too late

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    TracyF