Feds Want To Eavesdrop On Internet Phone Calls
Dan Gillmor voices concerns stemming from law enforcement’s lobbying of the FCC to force broadband service providers and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) companies to allow their customers’ Internet phone calls to be monitored.
He acknowledges that law enforcement agencies’ motives are understandable: Their fear is that malicious parties will communicate via VoIP, which is not currently covered by the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) of 1994.
AT&T Labs researcher Steven M. Bellovin noted at the annual Computers, Freedom, and Privacy conference that the Internet Engineering Task Force argued the pointlessness and danger of attempting to modify the Internet’s infrastructure for wiretapping, as the additional complexity would raise the odds that third parties will be able to breach networks.
Data encryption can be employed to secure VoIP calls, but if this encryption is prohibited, then both civil liberties as well as personal and corporate security will be further eroded, Gillmor writes.
Lee Tien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation warns that if law enforcement succeeds in its CALEA expansion request, then it, the FCC, and the major network gear manufacturers will regulate future Internet development. He also said that law enforcement wants the FCC to institute a surcharge on communication to pay for VoIP wiretapping, yet does not want the surcharge to show up separately on customers’ bills.
“Silicon Valley companies should be shouting from the rooftops against this latest incursion,” writes Gillmor, who adds that the measure would force new technology developers to obtain authorization from the FCC prior to implementation.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from SiliconValley.com (04/25/04); Gillmor, Dan .