The Senate Commerce Committee has before it S. 2281, introduced by Sen. John Sununu (R-NH). It is a broad bill on VOIP and is generally deregulatory. CDT has learned that several Senators are planning amendments that would extend to VOIP services the wiretap design requirements of "CALEA."
CALEA is the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act of 1994. It required traditional phone companies to build into their switches various capabilities so phone calls can be easily wiretapped. When Congress passed CALEA, it explicitly excluded the Internet from the scope of these surveillance mandates. As implemented, CALEA has proven to be a costly design mandate. The FBI used the law to get capabilities it never used to have in the traditional phone system. CALEA has become a straightjacket, and is especially ill-suited to the Internet.
Extending CALEA to VOIP and the Internet would be bad for innovation, cost, privacy and security.
The CDT brings us this opportunity to oppose extending the provisions of CALEA to the Internet. If you remember the 90's, CALEA was an issue at that time as well; at that time it only applied to telephone technology. Wiretap technology is invasive enough without forcing those designing new technologies to bear the cost of inventing a wiretap mechanism for the FBI at the same time.