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  1.    #1  
    Hopefully this won't stall VoIP R&D...
    VoIP calls can be tapped
    Aug. 5 2004
    By Jennifer C. Kerr, Associated Press

    WASHINGTON - Internet phone calls should be subject to the same type of law enforcement surveillance as cell and landline phones, federal regulators said Wednesday.

    The Federal Communications Commission voted for proposed rules that would require Internet service providers to ensure their equipment will allow police wiretaps.

    Privacy advocates complained that the proposed rules could allow law enforcement to tap communications by thousands of individuals on the Internet, not just would-be criminals.

    Lawyers for the Justice Department, FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration asked the FCC in March to affirm that Internet calls -- or Voice over Internet Protocol -- fall under the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA).

    The 1994 law requires the telecommunications industry to build into its products tools that federal investigators can use -- after getting court approval -- to eavesdrop on conversations.

    ``Our support for law enforcement is unwavering,'' FCC Chairman Michael Powell said. ``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.''

    At the same time, Powell warned against placing ``onerous regulations'' on what he called the vibrant new services of voice Internet calls.

    Voice over Internet Protocol, also known as VoIP, converts phone calls to data packets and sends them across high-speed Internet connections.

    David Sobel, general counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center, says the potential exists for law enforcement to intercept packets of data from subscribers other than the intended police target.

    ``If there's going to be an expansion of CALEA's coverage, it should be made by Congress, not the FCC,'' Sobel said. The newer VoIP technology has unique privacy considerations that only lawmakers have the authority to consider, he said.

    The FCC will solicit comments from industry and the public as it crafts final rules.

  2. #2  
    VoIP providers have been trying to develop this technology...its not that companies are trying to block the tapping, but the technology isn't available yet
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  3. #3  
    Not completely true.

    Packet sniffers and decent software can re-assemble the packets for VoIP calls. Otherwise, there wouldn't be encryption for them.

    Here in the Ew Ess Ay, the FBI is putting pressure on the FCC to make IP-call providers allow for a wiretapping interface for law enforcement purposes. There was a news item about this a couple months ago.

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