from IP: Feds will data tap under CALEA

Perry E. Metzger perry at
Mon Jun 18 10:02:15 EDT 2001

Forwarded from Interesting People

------- Start of forwarded message -------
Date: Sun, 17 Jun 2001 21:34:44 -0400
Subject: IP: Feds will data tap under CALEA 

>From: "PAUL JULIEN" <p.julien at>
>To: <farber at>
>Subject: Feds will data tap under CALEA
>Date: Sun, 17 Jun 2001 12:48:49 -0400
>X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook Express 5.00.2615.200
> >From the article below:
>"Communications companies carrying packet data have until Sept. 30 to
>demonstrate that their systems will permit law enforcement officials to
>conduct wiretaps. "
>Paul Julien
>Rutherford NJ
>Unresolved Issues Dog Fed's Data-Tap Efforts
>By Doug Brown, Interactive Week
>June 11, 2001
>Rapid changes in communications technology threaten to make "a big mess" out
>of the federal government's ambitious plans to weave wiretapping into the
>fabric of the digital age, while a 1994 law grows increasingly outdated.
>While parts of the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act
>(CALEA) have already been implemented by phone and other communications
>carriers, important areas of the law are being disputed in courtrooms and
>mulled over by bureaucrats in the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the
>Federal Communications Commission.
>One unresolved issue is how to handle packet data, a technology that was in
>its infancy when the law was written, but has since emerged as the leading
>method for transmitting voice and data in the Internet age.
>Communications companies carrying packet data have until Sept. 30 to
>demonstrate that their systems will permit law enforcement officials to
>conduct wiretaps. The industry has filed requests with the FCC to extend the
>deadline. The FBI argues that extensions should not be granted. Industry
>representatives say they need to figure out a way to separate the packets'
>header data from content before they can implement any standards, and the
>technological solution to the problem could take years to figure out. It's
>up to the FCC to decide how to proceed.
>"We believe the packet issue is going to be around for a long time," said
>Rodney Small, an economist in the FCC's office of engineering and technology
>who handles CALEA. Industry has "decided it's too expensive to do this, and
>they aren't sure what the privacy implications are," Small said. "They are
>getting cold feet, legally and financially. Meanwhile, these new
>technologies keep developing. . . . On the packet data [issue], there could
>be more petitions and it could be a big mess."
>An industry official agreed. "You will see more lawsuits or court
>challenges. You'll certainly see carriers filing extensions on packet data
>deadlines," said Grant Seiffert, vice president of external affairs and
>global policy at the Telecommunications Industry Association, a trade group
>representing many telecommunications carriers implicated in the CALEA
>regulations. "In a packet world, somebody has to open the packet to look for
>the information the FBI is seeking. Is the FBI going to do it? We're not
>going to do it unless we are paid to do it. Who is going to be looking over
>everyone's shoulders when we open up this information?"
>As the packet data issue looms, industry and civil liberties advocates await
>signals from the Bush administration about how new regulators - particularly
>FCC commissioners and the new FBI director - plan to approach government
>surveillance issues. The agencies' decisions could affect the depth of the
>"Congress may be re-engaged," Seiffert said. "It's sort of a wait-and-see
>game right now."
>"The FBI's credibility is at an all-time low here," said Barry Steinhardt,
>associate director at the American Civil Liberties Union. "Attorney General
>[John] Ashcroft in the Senate expressed skepticism about a number of
>government surveillance programs."
>An FBI spokesman defended work to date, saying: "There has been significant
>progress made with the implementation of CALEA," and citing technical
>solutions available for wireline and wireless segments of the telecom
>Some CALEA experts question some of what the FBI has managed to implement
>already, charging that the agency installed sophisticated data collection
>systems in communications networks that require expensive equipment to
>"It's close to a scandal," said Stewart Baker, an attorney and former
>general counsel at the National Security Agency who has been involved with
>legal challenges to CALEA. "After industry has spent all of this money, it
>turns out it's generating all of this data that has to be translated by
>special-purpose machines that have to be bought by local law enforcement.
>This may have the effect of pricing wiretaps out of the market for a lot of
>smaller jurisdictions."
>Baker also said that while CALEA is supposed to apply only to voice
>communications, the FBI has been "pretty aggressive" when it delves into the
>packet data realm, "trying to persuade people who build data networks that
>sooner or later they will have to provide wiretap capability."
>"A year ago, when times were good, everybody leaned towards the view that it
>was better to not pick a fight with the FBI," Baker said. "Now it's less
>clear that people have the funds to spend on development or to purchase this
>stuff, so there could be a serious conflict over this and there is certainly
>a difficult question for people who are building Internet Protocol systems."

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Perry E. Metzger		perry at
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