Digital Surveillance: The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act [Updated January 29, 2008]   [open pdf - 116KB]

"The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act […], enacted October 25, 1994, is intended to preserve the ability of law enforcement officials to conduct electronic surveillance effectively and efficiently despite the deployment of new digital technologies and wireless services that have altered the character of electronic surveillance. CALEA requires telecommunications carriers to modify their equipment, facilities, and services, wherever reasonably achievable, to ensure that they are able to comply with authorized electronic surveillance actions. Since 2004, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been considering a number of questions as to how to apply CALEA to new technologies, such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). […]. In May 2006, the FCC addressed several outstanding issues regarding CALEA implementation. Among other clarifications, the FCC (1) affirmed its May 14, 2007 compliance deadline for facilities-based broadband Internet access and interconnected VoIP services, and clarified that the date applied to all such providers; (2) explained that the FCC does not plan to intervene in the standards-setting process in this matter; (3) permitted telecommunications carriers the option of using Trusted Third Parties to assist in meeting their CALEA obligations; (4) restricted the availability of compliance extensions to equipment, facilities, and services deployed prior to October 25, 1998; (5) found that the FCC may enforce action under section 229(a) of the Communications Act against carriers that fail to comply with CALEA; and (6) concluded that carriers are responsible for CALEA development and implementation costs for post-January 1, 1995, equipment and facilities […]."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL30677
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