[IP] CALEA - Final Rule

Brett Glass brett at lariat.net
Thu Jul 6 05:48:04 PDT 2006


This is disturbing. The FCC Report and Order on CALEA (see http://
cryptome.org/fcc070506.htm) appears to drag all broadband providers
-- including small, rural ISPs such as myself -- into a messy
regulatory regime, merely because one of my customers might choose to
use a VoIP service. Worse still, the requirements are vague and
potentially extremely onerous.

I do not offer VoIP myself, but of course it is possible for any of
my customers to do VoIP via a third party service. Now, any VoIP
service worth its salt would encrypt conversations such that it would
be pointless to intercept calls by tapping my network. Any rational
law enforcement agency would want to go to one of the ends, where the
data was present in the clear, to listen in on the call. What's more,
even the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, which recently ruled in an
awkward, poorly reasoned split decision (see


for the text) that the FCC could define the words of a statute
differently in different contexts to reach an outcome it desired,
admits that non-VoIP traffic is clearly not subject to interception
under CALEA.

There is no rational reason to subject an ISP such as myself to the
statute's expensive requirements. Yet, the FCC is trying to do so.
What's more, to add insult to injury, it has stated that it does not
intend to allow ISPs to be compensated for the expense of making
their networks tappable. In short, the FCC seems eager to impose
requirements upon us which would do nothing to enhance homeland
security but could well drive us and other independent ISPs out of
business. This would ensure a cable/telco duopoly and hamper the
expansion of broadband service to rural areas like ours.

In my opinion, the FCC R&O *must* be challenged via an appeal of the
lower court's ruling to the Supreme Court. Otherwise, the end of
broadband competition may have just come much closer.

--Brett Glass, LARIAT.NET

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