Judge Chides FCC For CALEA Expansion

A federal judge signals strong disapproval of the government's efforts to require Internet service providers to make their networks easier to wiretap.

May 9, 2006

1 Min Read
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Critics of the federal government's attempts to expand the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act are getting a boost from a court's reaction to the government's argument in the case.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, Sun Microsystems, the American Council on Education, the Center for Democracy and Technology and other groups are trying to throw out a Federal Communications Commission decision that would require Internet providers to upgrade networks so they would be easier to wiretap.

Both sides presented their arguments Friday in a Washington, D.C. court, where a judge chided the federal government. Judge Harry Edwards said in court that the FCC's argument is "gobbledygook."

"It's really funny," he said. "It's utter nonsense."

The government claims that it needs greater ability to tap Internet communications – including e-mail and VoIP – to protect national security. Critics, including universities that would have to overhaul their networks under the new CALEA rules, claim that the upgrades are unnecessary and harmful and were not subject to proper review.CALEA requires law enforcement authorities to obtain warrants for wiretaps, which is not the case for the separate National Security Agency surveillance program.

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