Feeds

VeriSign cashes in on CALEA procrastination

Leave the bugging to us

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

The federal Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), which mandates that telecoms providers make their equipment wiretap-friendly, is scheduled to come into force on 30 June, though a number of carriers have yet to achieve compliance due to the expense and complexity involved.

With that in mind, VeriSign is offering a solution called NetDiscovery for last-minute stragglers who've failed to put their houses in order according to DoJ standards. For a subscription fee VeriSign will perform all the collections ordered and forward the payloads to whatever law-enforcement agencies are requesting them.

Depending on the existing equipment and number of switches involved, upgrade costs could range from $70,000 to as high as $500,000 per switch, plus staff costs. We couldn't quite nail VeriSign down on their prices for NetDiscovery, but we can say that it will be comparable to other subscription services the company offers. The company press release describes it as "a fraction of the cost" of upgrading one's equipment.

The industry has resisted the CALEA as a significant financial drain, particularly burdensome for small carriers who would only rarely receive a wiretap request. Of course Congress did appropriate half a billion dollars to make its demands a bit easier to swallow. No doubt the equipment makers lobbied for it while the carriers lobbied against, and lost. But that's all water under the bridge now; the 103rd Congress passed it and we're all stuck with it.

As for the sticky issues of data integrity, data security and potential problems with overcollection, we're still ambivalent. Stuff-ups are inevitable, but there is some advantage in reducing the number of people going about these collections in their own way. We hope that as VeriSign gets further into it they'll iron out the bugs over time. If every carrier were to come up with their own solution, that would only multiply the opportunities for unfortunate surprises. On the other hand, when a single company is entrusted with such large amounts of highly sensitive data, a single stuff-up is obviously going to affect a far greater number of people at once.

Cynics may be depressed; but keep in mind this isn't some industry-led novel means of screwing the public out of their civil liberties like Larry Ellison's odious proposal to create a new, national ID system conveniently running on Oracle software. Communications data collection is already an unpleasant fact of life. The 103rd Congress gave us the CALEA, and the 107th gave us the PATRIOT Act which reduces judicial obstacles and oversight for the Feds; so don't blame VeriSign simply for trying to turn a profit on an existing legal requirement. That's what businesses do, after all. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.