Monday, 03 October 2005

I subscribe to a VoIP telephone service, and I used to be a law enforcement officer, so this recent news was especially interesting to me when it was made official a little while back. The United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently released a decision in which the commission rules that commercial VoIP providers are subject to the same wiretap laws under CALEA as other phone providers. In other words, is a VoIP system interconnects to the switched telephone network, law enforcement can request a wiretap order from a judge with probable cause.

But in reading the order, it looks like it only applies - at least for now - to those companies that provide a mechanism to connect their VoIP services to the public switched networks. We'll see how long that lasts - the commission has promised to issue further decisions on the order in the near future. The pertinent section states:

38. As a result, certain VoIP service providers are not subject to CALEA obligations imposed in today’s Order. Specifically, today’s Order does not apply to those entities not fully interconnected with the PSTN. Because interconnecting with the PSTN can impose substantial costs, we anticipate that many of the entities that elect not to interconnect with the PSTN, and which therefore are not subject to the rules adopted in today’s Order, are small entities. Small entities that provide VoIP services therefore also have some control over whether they will be have to be CALEA compliant. Small businesses may still offer VoIP service without being subject to the rules adopted in today’s Order by electing not to provide an interconnected VoIP service.

You can read the full ruling here: FCC 05-153 (PDF file)

Ya gotta love the acronyms these days...

  • CALEA = Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act
  • VoIP = Voice over Internet Protocol
  • FCC = Federal Communications Commission

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Monday, 03 October 2005 19:40:30 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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