Sunday, September 25, 2005

[Cybertel-Ann] FCC Requires Certain Broadband and VoIP Providers to Accommodate Wiretaps

Cybertelecom :: VoIP :: CALEA

August 5, 2005 Mark Wigfield,

FCC Requires Certain Broadband and VoIP Providers to
Accommodate Wiretaps

Order Strikes Balance Between Law Enforcement,

Washington, D.C. – Responding to a petition from the
Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of
Investigation, and the Drug Enforcement Agency, the
Commission determined that providers of certain
broadband and interconnected voice over Internet
Protocol (VoIP) services must be prepared to
accommodate law enforcement wiretaps, the Federal
Communications Commission ruled today.
The Commission found that these services can
essentially replace conventional telecommunications
services currently subject to wiretap rules, including
circuit-switched voice service and dial-up Internet
access. As replacements, the new services are covered
by the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement
Act, or CALEA, which requires the Commission to
preserve the ability of law enforcement agencies to
conduct court-ordered wiretaps in the face of
technological change.
The Order is limited to facilities-based broadband
Internet access service providers and VoIP providers
that offer services permitting users to receive calls
from, and place calls to, the public switched
telephone network. These VoIP providers are called
interconnected VoIP providers.
The Commission found that the definition of
“telecommunications carrier” in CALEA is broader than
the definition of that term in the Communications Act
and can encompass providers of services that are not
classified as telecommunications services under the
Communications Act. CALEA contains a provision that
authorizes the Commission to deem an entity a
telecommunications carrier if the Commission “finds
that such service is a replacement for a substantial
portion of the local telephone exchange.”
Because broadband Internet and interconnected VoIP
providers need a reasonable amount of time to come
into compliance with all relevant CALEA requirements,
the Commission established a deadline of 18 months
from the effective date of this Order, by which time
newly covered entities and providers of newly covered
services must be in full compliance. The Commission
also adopted a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
that will seek more information about whether certain
classes or categories of facilities-based broadband
Internet access providers – notably small and rural
providers and providers of broadband networks for
educational and research institutions – should be
exempt from CALEA.
The Commission’s action is the first critical step to
apply CALEA obligations to new technologies and
services that are increasingly used as a substitute
for conventional services. The Order strikes an
appropriate balance between fostering competitive
broadband and advanced services deployment and
technological innovation on one hand, and meeting the
needs of the law enforcement community on the other.

Wireline Competition Bureau Staff Contacts: Terri
Natoli and Carol Simpson, (202) 418-1580


News about the Federal Communications Commission can
also be found
on the Commission’s web site

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