Feeds

FCC approves taps on broadband and VoIP

Spooks a step closer to Internet snooping

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

3 Big data security analytics techniques

US regulators yesterday ruled tentatively in favor of an FBI and Justice Department proposal that would compel Internet broadband and VoIP providers to open their networks up to easy surveillance by law enforcement agencies.

At issue is the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), a federal law that mandates surveillance backdoors in US telephone networks, allowing the FBI to start listening in on a target's phone calls within minutes of receiving court approval. Last March, the Department of Justice, the FBI and the US Drug Enforcement Administration jointly petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a ruling that cable modem companies and other broadband providers are also covered by the law.

"Our support for law enforcement is unwavering," said FCC chairman Michael Powell, reading from a statement at a public meeting of the commission Wednesday. "It is our goal in this proceeding to ensure that law enforcement agencies have all of the electronic surveillance capabilities that CALEA authorizes to combat crime and terrorism and support homeland security."

The 5-0 ruling is open to public comment before it takes effect, and the FCC is seeking guidance on some implementation details, including the issue of how much time to allow service providers to wire their networks for spying.

Though the ruling was unanimous, two commissioners expressed concern that the FCC's interpretation of the 1994 law was precarious, and might later be overturned in the courts. "There are better was to build a system that will encourage judicial approval," said commissioner Michael Copps." As it is, the ruling is "too flush with tentative conclusions that stretch the statutory framework almost to tear," Copps said.

The decision is a milestone for the Justice Department, which first began lobbying for CALEA's application to the Internet over two years ago.

Federal law already compels ISPs to cooperate with law enforcement in court-approved surveillance of customers, but as police rely more on Internet snooping - with tools like the FBI's "Carnivore" DCS-1000 packet sniffer - they've begun to crave the speed and ease-of-use of the wiretapping infrastructure that CALEA grafted onto the modern telephone network.

The EFF, ACLU, the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Democracy and Technology all filed comments opposing the plan, and an ACLU letter-drive generated hundreds of mailings from citizens against what the group called "the New Ashcroft Internet Snooping Request."

Related stories

Webtapping battle lines drawn
Spooks want more Webtapping powers

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Audio fans, prepare yourself for the Second Coming ... of Blu-ray
High Fidelity Pure Audio – is this what your ears have been waiting for?
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
Sorry London, Europe's top tech city is Munich
New 'Atlas of ICT Activity' finds innovation isn't happening at Silicon Roundabout
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Apple DOMINATES the Valley, rakes in more profit than Google, HP, Intel, Cisco COMBINED
Cook & Co. also pay more taxes than those four worthies PLUS eBay and Oracle
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.