Broadband Service Providers Face Wiretapping Deadline

The FCC ruled in 2005 that broadband and VoIP providers must be able to facilitate wiretaps used by intelligence authorities so that old eavesdropping practices can be applied to newer technology.
Broadband service providers have until May 14 to upgrade their networks so law enforcement agencies can wiretap their IP networks for voice and data communications.

The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act was enacted in 1994 and already requires phone companies to have such capabilities. The Federal Communications Commission ruled in 2005 that broadband and VoIP providers must be able to facilitate wiretaps used by intelligence authorities to allow old practices to be applied to newer technology.

Earlier this year, providers were required to file plans for accommodating such requests. Since the plans directly relate to law enforcement investigations, the FCC didn't make them public.

While time runs out for companies to ready their networks, Procera Networks is among the companies positioned to gain from a last-minute scramble. And it's making that known. The small, publicly-owned company has a marketing campaign that asks: "Are you compliant?" It provides comparisons showing that its PacketLogic Lawful Intercept Rules System, which consists of two boxes and software, is a cost-effective measure for small to midsize companies.

The system is capable of delivering the two types of requests providers will likely receive. Legal authorities are allowed to request call-identifying information and call content to and from particular targets. Warrants specify the types of data traffic sought, and service providers are required to provide it without the targets' knowledge.

The system isn't just capable of tailoring requests to capture only VoIP chat sessions or other specific communications, it can format the results to fit the needs of investigators, Albert Lopez, VP of business development and product management for Procera, said in an interview.

"It helps privacy, too," he said, adding that the ability to narrow the scope of targeted information can help protect subscribers' privacy.

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