FCC wiretapping regs upheld, so what?

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The D.C. Court of Appeals has upheld the FCC's decision that "facilities-based broadband Internet access and interconnected VoIP services" need to provide CALEA access (see previous post here):
In a split decision, two of three judges on the panel concluded that the 2005 Federal Communications Commission requirement was a "reasonable policy choice" even though information services are exempted from the government's wiretapping authority.

The FCC has set a May 14, 2007, deadline for compliance, and the ruling drew praise from the FCC and the Justice Department, which sought the access.

"Today's decision will ensure that technology does not impede the capabilities of law enforcement to provide for the safety and security of our nation," the department said in a statement.

But the chief author of the 1994 wiretapping law, U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, criticized the court's decision, saying Congress had deliberately excluded the Internet when it wrote the wiretap law.

"The court's expansion of (the wiretapping law) to cover the Internet is troubling, and it is not what Congress intended," Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, said in a statement.

I'm not sure whether the FCC exceeded its authority or not, but I'm not sure it really matters one way or the other. First, the Bush Administration seems pretty aggressive about wiretapping without bothering to go through the standard legal channels. Second, the responses to revelations about Administration wiretapping suggest that it wouldn't be that hard for wiretapping proponents to revise the law to require CALEA access to this kind of system anyway.

2 Comments

Facilities-based, huh? What about non-facilities-based VoIP services?

Apparently they're not required to comply.

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