Internet Adapts to Surveillance by Law Enforcement

Posted by Thomas Jeffry

Monday (May 14th) marked the deadline when all facilities-based broadband Internet access providers and providers of interconnected VoIP (voice over Internet protocol) needed to comply with Section 103 and 105 of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (CALEA), Pub. L. No. 103-414, 108 Stat. 4279. Cable modem companies, satellite internet companies, DSL providers, and broadband over powerline join traditional telecommunications carriers in providing technology that allows law enforcement agencies to tap into email, instant messaging, web browsing logs, and other forms of electronic communications.

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Expanded Privacy Obligations for Telecom Carriers and VoIP Providers Under Consideration at the FCC

Posted by K.C. Halm

The FCC is reportedly close to issuing a decision that would modify current rules governing the use, disclosure of, and access to certain information related to telephone subscriber calling records. Current rules require telecommunications carriers to treat this information, known in the industry as customer proprietary network information (CPNI), as confidential and to limit its use and disclosure. CPNI is broadly defined to include information that relates to the quantity, technical configuration, type, destination, location and amount of use of a telecommunications service. Generally speaking this includes call detail records, call volumes, customer account information, billing information, technical information, service destination, and the service plans to which a customer subscribes. Following several high-profile pretexting cases in 2005 which lead to the release of telephone subscriber records the FCC initiated a proceeding to revisit the scope and effectiveness of its current CPNI rules. 

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VoIP and Broadband Internet Access Providers Face Upcoming CALEA Deadlines

Posted by K.C. Halm

In the next several months providers of interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services and facilities-based broadband Internet access must become compliant with the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA).  Enacted in 1994, CALEA imposes obligations on traditional wireline and wireless telephony service providers to design their networks to facilitate law enforcement surveillance of voice communications. However, in 2005 the Federal Communications Commission extended that obligation to providers of VoIP and facilities-based broadband Internet access services.   Under the new regime, the scope of entities covered by CALEA is broader than in the past – specifically, in addition to VoIP services, providers of broadband Internet access services, including cable modem, DSL, satellite, wireless, fixed wireless, and broadband over powerline services, are now also subject to CALEA. Interestingly, the FCC defined “broadband” services are those with ability to support upstream or downstream speeds exceeding 200 kilobits per second (kbps) in the last mile.

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Red Hook: Not Just a Micro-Brewery in the Pacific Northwest Any Longer

Posted by Kaustuv M. Das

On Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2006, the Electronic Freedom Foundation’s FLAG project filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) action Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) action, in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, seeking release of information from the FBI on its DCS-3000 and Red Hook tools. DCS-3000 and Red Hook appear to be successors to the FBI’s less politically correctly named Carnivore program, which the agency began in 2000.

According to the DOJ’s Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) report entitled “The Implementation of the Communications Assistance of Law Enforcement Act” (the CALEA report), the FBI has spent nearly $10 million to develop DCS-3000. “The FBI developed the system as an interim solution to intercept personal communications services delivered via emerging digital technologies used by wireless carriers in advance of any CALEA solutions being deployed. Law enforcement continues to utilize this technology as carriers continue to introduce new features and services.” (CALEA report, Appendix VIII.) The CALEA report also discloses that “[t]he FBI has spent over $1.5 million to develop [the Red Hook] system to collect voice and data calls and then process and display the intercepted information in the absence of a CALEA solution.” Id.

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VoIP Security

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) security is an emerging issue now, but it is only a matter of time before the risk rises to a level which demands action. VoIP is susceptible to the same dangers as data networks that use the Internet. At risk: any telephone conversation traveling on the company network; sensitive information; deals; strategies; and company secrets.

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Philip Zimmerman Unveils Encryption for VoIP

Philip R. Zimmerman, the creator of Pretty Good Privacy("PGP"), unveiled a prototype for encrypting data carried on VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) at the Black Hat Security conference in Las Vegas in late July. The prototype, called zFone, will be written in Python mainly because it is built to run off the open-source Shtoom, which is also written in Python. Currently, zFone runs on the Mac OS X and Zimmerman hopes to make the prototype available for download by the end of August.

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FCC Rules that Broadband and VoIP Providers Must Accommodate Wiretaps

The FCC has issued a press release announcing that it will now require certain providers of broadband and Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) to build backdoor into their networks to accommodate law enforcement wiretaps.

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