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Cybersecurity & Standards, Government Surveillance, Privacy & Data

FCC chairman suggests expanded wiretap laws in response to the Paris attacks

Washington Post:

While the Federal Communications Commission cannot take direct action against the Islamic State, such as shutting down its Web sites or social media accounts, Congress could do “specific things” allowing the FCC to assist law enforcement more effectively, agency Chairman Tom Wheeler told a House subcommittee. That includes revisiting the wiretap legislation, said Wheeler. The 1994 law, known as the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA, provides for the “lawful intercept” of a suspect’s telephone and online communications. It requires telecom companies and Internet providers, not to mention some online voice services, to build their networks in ways that grant authorities easier access to those communications.

But the suggestion that video-game communications services could someday be covered under CALEA represents a dramatic new development, said Chris Calabrese, a policy executive at the Center for Democracy and Technology.

CALEA’s origins can be traced to a compromise: Telecom companies and Internet service providers would allow the government greater access to customer information, but pure “information services” such as Web-based messaging apps would be exempted, Calabrese said.

“If you say ‘we want to revisit that deal,’ you’re talking about building an intercept capacity into the Internet,” said Calabrese, “which is obviously a very different kettle of fish from what we had 20 years ago when we had a few big phone companies.”

Full story here.