August 09, 2004

FCC votes to tap Internet calls

In the US, the FCC has voted to enforce CALEA - wiretap rules - on VoIP operators [1] [2]. These businesses (like Vonage) provide Internet calls to their switches and then onto the public network. They are fantastically successful, because they deliver good service for cheap, something so implausible for the fixed wire competitors (like Sprint, AT&T and the baby bells) that it must be against FCC rules.

VoIP (voice over IP) operators are of course ideally placed to listen to the calls, something that is currently only done under subpoena. CALEA will force them to provide high performance infrastructure to enable massive monitoring.

This could presage a new phase in crypto deployment. Obviously, direct PC to PC comms cannot be covered by such rules, and equally obviously, people will prefer to talk privately. Products like Skype and the rough predecessors PGPPhone and SpeakFreely will get a boost.

IMHO, the FCC will do more damage to the eavesdroppers' objectives than they realise. The FCC has been one of the agencies at the forefront of letting the Internet develop without overbearing regulation, knowing that they can't help, but they can certainly hinder. Perhaps they do realise?

[2] FCC approves taps on broadband and VoIP
[1] Wiretap law would apply to broadband

Posted by iang at August 9, 2004 04:09 AM | TrackBack

Power thru policy is the name of the game in Washington. No law has to be passed but merely read by the Agency in this case the FCC to include new technologies or service offerings. The reality is that it expands the franchise of the regulator while in office and afterwards. A good example of this rangling for position and power thru the use and abuse of Agency standing are the multi million dollar contracts and positions given to the legal investigators of various scandals. All the Attornies have been offered big jobs at the firms they are investigating. This provides a termination of the process after the person has left the Agency and gone to work for the company that is investigated. Mr. Powell of the FCC is a lawyer and will be going back to the commercial world. Mr. Powells objective has nothing to do with the public good or the mandate his office carries to insure the public has a vital service. Mr. Powells jobs as far as he sees it is to feather his nest for commercial viability after he leaves the FCC. So just prior to being named the head of the FCC Mr. Powells billing rate was $600 USD per hour after he leaves the FCC the rate will shoot to the moon. Since the implementation of his policies during his time at the FCC will insure a knowledge and relationship to exact a fortune from what the US considers the Public Property. So VOIP does not have to be good for the public it only has to be good for Mr. Powell. While VOIP is unregulated compared to the Telcom providers this hands off strategy is probably backed with some sweet over paid consulting gig afterwards for Powell and his crew. Rather than enforce real laws and policy the vague arbitary enforcement and reading of the rules allows for fortunes to be made by those with the power to swoop down willy nilly like owls picking off mice on the barn floor. Mr. Powell and all US Government Agency people consider the US Tax payer and citizen a secondary effect one that need not be served. The State and local political sub-divisions are to one extent or another paid off and corrupt. To say there is a strategy beyond the lining of attornies pockets is a myth. Prior to the break up of ATT by Judge Greene Casper Wienberger presented to Congress the impact on the Defense Communications Networks if they did not proceed with caution. Mr. Wienbergers words where considered unimportant and they where framed within real national security concerns. So since the Judge Greene break up of ATT the Congress and the Agency (FCC) have made the access to policy and implementation a private banking center to fill their bank accounts after they leave office. While the Soviet Union Privitized the Telcom sector the US Government stole the private assets to make them their own. VOIP requires a telcom backbone and support to reach the dmark of private homeowners and businesses. The providing of dial tone to the dmark from the SS7 class 9 switch can be replaced but not supported within a totally VOIP structure. So the longer the the VOIP remains unregulated the thinner its road becomes. The support structure is base upon Telcom just like the internet.

Posted by: Jimbo at August 9, 2004 08:21 AM