FCC Votes to Wiretap VoIP

The Federal Communications Commission has voted 5 – 0 to subject voice over IP communications to the same laws that apply to eaves dropping over conventional telephone calls.

Whilst VoIP is cheap alternative to making standard telephone calls, especially over long distance, it is rather difficult to tap. The vote means that VoIP is now subject to the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), and that assistance is basically a requirement that your VoIP chat has a back door in it so that federal law enforcement agencies can listen in without telling you.

FCC chairman Michael Powell said: “Our support for law enforcement is unwavering. 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 and support homeland security.”

The FCC’s statement

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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?