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Does CALEA wiretap law cover the Internet?

[There seem to be multiple services at issue here: ISPs,
computer-to-computer IP telephony, and IP gateway telephony that more
closely resembles traditional phone calls. There is also unfortunate
confusion inside IETF as to which of these is covered by CALEA, which
requires wiretappability of "telecommunications carriers." --DBM]


Date: Wed, 13 Oct 1999 06:17:57 -0400
To: declan@well.com
From: John Young <jya@pipeline.com>
Subject: Re: FC: IETF considers building wiretapping into the Internet

The FCC issued yesterday its detailed definitions of what types of
services are and are not subject to CALEA requirements:


This was issued in an attempt is to answer questions from
respondents about what is a "telecommunications carrier."


"5. CALEA also makes clear that its requirements do not apply to 
certain entities and services. Subsection 102(8)(C) of the definition 
specifically excludes information services, and the legislative history 
makes clear that CALEA does not apply to private network services:    

[T]elecommunications services that support the transport or switching 
of communications for private networks or for the sole purpose of 
interconnecting telecommunications carriers * * * need not meet any 
wiretap standards. PBXs are excluded. So are automated teller 
machine (ATM) networks and other closed networks. Also excluded 
from coverage are all information services, such as Internet service 
providers or services such as Prodigy and America-On-Line.    

All of these private network systems or information services can be 
wiretapped pursuant to court order, and their owners must cooperate 
when presented with a wiretap order, but these services and systems 
do not have to be designed so as to comply with the capability 

It is unnecessary to adopt the FBI's recommendation not to use the 
adverb ``indiscriminately'' in clarifying the definition of
carrier. The FBI is concerned that the inclusion of this term may allow 
companies that hold themselves out to serve only particular groups to 
undermine CALEA, intentionally or inadvertently, by creating a loophole 
that would permit criminals to use telecommunications providers that 
do not indiscriminately offer their services to the public."

[End excerpts]

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