Sunday, October 16, 2005

Internet Wiretapping 

I was quite busy the last days, so I am still catching up with the blogosphere. One interesting issue last week was the discussion about the FCC's final decision on the applicabiliy of CALEA to BB Internet Access Services and VoIP. The FCC is currently rewinding fast backward all the progress made under Mike Powell and Rob Pepper.

Jeff Pulver exploded on his blog and via all channels with a WARNING: The FCC Extends CALEA's reach to the Internet, commented by Jon Arnold, James Enck, Alec Saunders and Kevin Werbach

Scott Bradner exploded 4 days earlier in his column at Networkworld: Internet Wiretapping . more questions than answers on this issue.

Today Rao Aswath is also commenting and he brings a point forward which is mostly forgotten in all these discussions: that a target MUST NOT be able to discern that he is a target.

... I want to bring to your attention that complying to CALEA requirement will not only be expensive for VoIP providers; it will also destroy the basic architectural advantage. As Randell Jesup observes in his comments to Jeff’s post, the only way a VoIP service provider can comply with CALEA is for them to deploy media relays and route all calls through them. This is because CALEA requires that the targets must not be able to discern that they are targets ...

I fully agree with his conclusion that wiretapping for content can only take place at the access, VoIP providers may only provide signalling information at best. If VoIP are required to intercept content, they would have to route all their calls via a box (nice for video calls) to be able to record them and then every half-educated Internet user would immediately recognise that he is intercepted. Phil Zimmerman will like this boost for his PGPhone.

He is also puzzled (and so am I since years) about the jurisdictional boundaries and implications nobody in the US seems to talk about - or care about. 99.999% of US citizens are talking anyway to US citizens, some think What if an US citizen is routed via a box in Syria (because he is talking to somebody in India and the Indian guy has decided to use a VoIP service in Syria) and now the US citizen is intercepted there? And BTW, does anyone believe (even in the US) that a terrorist with some minimum intelligence will use a US VoIP server?

This is basically what the world likes so much with the US: explaining the whole world how democracy works by creating asymmetric laws. The best example on this was the proposed international court on war crimes: valid for everybody exept US citizens.

Tom's VoIP Blog covered this back in September just after the FCC ruling and he provided a similar analysis.

FCC VoIP wiretaps

I'm surprised Pulver or you didn't link to it. There are lots of comments on that blog post as well worth checking out.
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