Feeds

Appeal against ISP snooping goes to Washington

'FCC went too far', coalition says

Boost IT visibility and business value

A group of technology companies and civil liberties groups will continue to challenge a law requiring ISPs to allow eavesdropping of customers by security agencies.

The US Government is trying to force ISPs to re-configure their systems to allow agencies to snoop on email and internet traffic. The relevant laws demand that phone providers allow such eavesdropping on voice calls, but the government and the companies dispute whether or not it allows the same actions with regard to data.

On 9 June a federal appeals court in the US ruled by two votes to one that companies would have to change their systems. That decision will now be appealed to the Court of Appeals in Washington, DC.

The coalition of groups mounting the appeal includes the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the Electronic Privacy Information Centre, Pulver.com, Sun Microsystems, and the National Association of College and University Business Officials.

Those organisations argue that the current systems have never blocked law enforcement agencies finding out information that they have needed in the past. "As far as the record on appeal reveals, 100 per cent of attempted interceptions of internet communications to date have been successful," says their brief in the case.

The coalition of groups opposes amendments to the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) being proposed by the US communications regulator the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). They argue that the FCC went too far when it framed the requirements for ISPs and argue that the FCC is demanding changes that are outside of its legal scope.

"CALEA requires telecommunications common carriers to build certain capabilities into their networks to facilitate wiretaps, but expressly excludes providers of information services," argues the coalition's brief.

The legal basis for internet wiretaps is currently in place, but the FCC is trying to standardise the methodology used, causing privacy concerns for those opposing it, as well as economic concerns about the cost of rewiring systems.

"It is crucial to remember that the issue here is not whether law enforcement can tap new technologies like VoIP, but whether they can tap it easily," said a statement from the EFF.

"Existing laws already permit law enforcement to place internet users under surveillance, regardless of what programs or protocols they are using to communicate. Industry already cooperates with law enforcement to give it all the information requested, and this will continue to happen with or without a new FCC rule interpreting CALEA."

The one dissenting judge who ruled in favour of the objections in June, Harry Edwards, called the FCC's evidence in that case "gobbledygook" and "nonsense".

Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
Fast And Furious 6 cammer thrown in slammer for nearly three years
Man jailed for dodgy cinema recording of Hollywood movie
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
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.
5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?