Coalition challenges US ruling over FBI net snooping

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Coalition challenges US ruling over FBI net snooping

Tash Shifrin

Sun Microsystems, Pulver.com and a coalition of civil liberties groups have filed an appeal against a US court ruling that would force technology companies to put “backdoors” into internet services to allow FBI wiretapping.

A June court ruling cleared the way for the FBI and phone regulators to impose a design mandate on technology companies under the US Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), which allows police wiretapping.

But the technology companies and their allies argue that the requirement would cause “harm to innovation and economic viability” of internet technology.

Documents filed with the Court of Appeal in Washington DC point out that Calea was originally aimed at telephone communications. “In enacting Calea, Congress was careful not to impose Calea’s burdens – either its financial costs or its harm to technical design freedom – on the new and emerging internet,” the papers say.

They added, “In two independent places in the Calea statute, Congress made unmistakably clear that Calea did not – and should not in the future – apply to the internet.”

Last month, a group of internet experts, academics and engineers also warned against extending Calea to Voice over IP communications.

Lack of understanding of the difference between VoIP and traditional telephone systems “has led to some difficult — and potentially dangerous — policy decisions”, the group warned.

 


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