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CALEA Argument Scoffed At By Judge

David A. Utter
Staff Writer
Published: 2006-05-05

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A lawyer for the FCC found a Washington DC appellate panel skeptical of requests from the Bush Administration for easier wiretapping of online telephone calls.

Pity Jacob Lewis, attorney for the Federal Communications Commission. A trio of federal Circuit judges proved at best an indifferent audience for arguments by Lewis in favor of revising the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) to account for modern technology.

At worst, Lewis found himself derided by U.S. Circuit Judge Harry T. Edwards, according to an AP report. "Gobbledygook," said Edwards. "Nonsense," he also said of Lewis' arguments.

"Your argument makes no sense," Edwards also said, to the delight of those who oppose what they see as invasive rules from an older era of technology being applied to a much newer playing field, especially with the rise of VoIP services like Skype, Vonage, and others.

Federal agencies foretell a dark world of evil benefiting from limited wiretapping laws. The Department of Justice said leaving out VoIP would deliver "a surveillance safe haven for criminals and terrorists who make use of new communications services.''

It will be several months before the judges decide whether or not CALEA should be expanded. In that time perhaps they will consider another aspect of communication that federal agencies would prefer not to have exposed in broader detail to the American public.

Intra- and interagency communication failures have been cited as factors that contributed to the federal government's inability to thwart the 9/11 attacks. While Alberto Gonzales et al think they need to know more about the communications between everyone else, maybe the assorted law enforcement and intelligence agencies should worry more about effectively communicating with each other instead.


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About the Author:
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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