Voice-over-IP providers that offer Internet calling that connects to the Public Switched Telephone Network will have 18 months to make their networks available to the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Agency for eavesdropping. Accommodating a request from those agencies, the Federal Communications Commission is requiring VOIP providers whose services can be used as a substitute for traditional telephony to comply with federal wiretap laws.
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said that new technologies shouldnt be hampered with economic regulation but that law enforcement must be able to conduct surveillance. “We must strike a balance between fostering competitive broadband deployment with meeting the needs of the law enforcement community,” Martin said.
FCC Commissioner Michael Copps supported the decision with some reservation, arguing that “it is built on very complicated legal ground” because the electronic surveillance law was “undeniably stretched to recognize new service technologies.”