Cisco Builds Wiretap Backdoors Into Its Net Hardware

Cisco, Juniper, Acme Packet, and other Internet hardware makers build wiretap backdoors into their hardware that can allow the government to tap all Internet and network communications. And here's the kicker: The law requiring them to do this hasn't even...

February 1, 2006

2 Min Read
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Cisco, Juniper, Acme Packet, and other Internet hardware makers build wiretap backdoors into their hardware that can allow the government to tap all Internet and network communications. And here's the kicker: The law requiring them to do this hasn't even gone into effect, and the specs aren't even final. The word about this comes from Brad Templeton, chairman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). An FCC mandate will require that all hardware and software have a wiretap backdoor that allows the government to tap into all your communications. The mandate expands the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA).

Even though the mandate has not yet gone into effect -- and it is in fact being fought in the courts -- many hardware makers like Cisco, Juniper, Acme Packet and others already include this backdoor in their hardware, says Templeton. To see for yourself, Googe "CALEA support." You'll be frightened by what you see.

Not only is the mandate not in effect, but the specs for it aren't even yet finalized. But that hasn't stopped Cisco, Juniper, and others from happily embedding wiretap backdoors into their gear.

So why are they doing it? Templeton thinks carriers are so frightened by the Feds about the impending requirement to allow backdoor wiretaps, that they're looking to buy the hardware for it already. And in turn "The vendors believe (carriers) want to see (CALEA support) on the feature list."

Everyone from the feds on down is wrong here. The FCC mandate should be overturned, and hardware makers shouldn't be building backdoor wiretaps into their hardware.The EFF, and others have filed a brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to stop the FCC mandate from going into effect, so let's hope they nip this problem in the bud.

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