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Cox Opens VoIP To Wiretapping

Cable operator Cox Communications has contracted with VeriSign to open up its Internet-based telephone service to law enforcement officials looking to eavesdrop on suspected criminal activity, the security vendor said Monday.

Cox, which provides cable TV service to 6 million customers in 23 states and digital cable TV to 265,000 subscribers, has implemented the VeriSign NetDiscovery Services for Cox's new VoIP cable service, Verisign said. The security service helps ensure compliance with the 1994 federal Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act.

The act requires telecommunications carriers to ensure their networks comply with government specifications for wiretapping by law enforcement. While the act doesn't cover VoIP networks, vendors believe it's just a matter of time.

Cox launched its VoIP service late last year, and it's currently available in several small markets. NetDiscovery is an outsourced service that provides a multitude of connectivity options to a carrier's network, fulfilling lawful interception mandates at less cost than an in-house implementation, VeriSign claims.

"Cox has always considered CALEA compliance as a top priority in our circuit switched markets, and realized that CALEA in new markets served by VoIP would be a challenge," Bill Dame, director of network switch engineering at Cox Communications, said in a statement.