FBI Drafting CALEA VoIP Expansion Legislation

Could this be the beginning of a new version of CALEA tailored for Internet communications? CNet News is reporting that the FBI is drafting new legislation intended to expand CALEA which will require ISPs to wiretap conversations and force makers of networking gear to provide hardware that can accommodate that capability. This legislation is set to be introduced by Sen. Mike DeWine (R. Ohio).

The 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) was originally drafted to apply to traditional telephony equipment and services and has since been viewed by figureheads in the Internet Telephony industry as inadequate or difficult to apply to Internet-based communications. This new legislation could potentially address those issues, however it may also eliminate safeguards that the original legislation provided.

The article published by CNet identifies four major points from the report. First, network infrastructure manufacturers will be required to upgrade their equipment to support Internet wiretapping. Second, law enforcement will have the ability to expand the reach of wiretapping beyond VoIP to other Internet communications such as Instant Messaging. Third, ISPs will have to monitor customer’s network traffic to identify only VoIP calls, and fourth, the legislation would eliminate the current CALEA requirement that the Justice Department must annually publish a public notice of the number of communication interceptions that have taken place.