This page is mostly about interception of cell phone calls and internet traffic. You
might as well face the fact that neither of these communication media come with any
guarantee of privacy. When cell phones first became popular in the 1980's, it was
extremely easy to listen in on them. (Fun, too!) These days it's a little
more difficult, and a lot more illegal, but people still do it. Not me,
of course, but no doubt there are plenty of people engaged in corporate espionage in this
country, not to mention a lot of warrantless listening justified by the perpetual
War on Terror. If that's what you're interested in, you should also visit my page about
the Domestic Spying issue.
Wiretapping is on the Increase in
Europe. In Italy, which experts agree is the most wiretapped Western democracy, a report to
parliament in January by Justice Minister Roberto Castelli said the number of authorized wiretaps more
than tripled from 32,000 in 2001 to 106,000 last year.
AT&T Seeks to Hide Spy
Docs. AT&T is seeking the return of technical documents presented in a lawsuit that
allegedly detail how the telecom giant helped the government set up a massive internet wiretap
operation in its San Francisco facilities.
The Perils of Wiretapping the
Internet. Congress passed CALEA in 1994 to make it easier for law enforcement
to wiretap digital telephone networks. CALEA forced telephone companies to redesign
their network architectures to make wiretapping easier. It expressly did not regulate
data traveling over the Internet. But now federal law enforcement agencies want to
change that. On March 10, 2004, the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the DEA
petitioned the FCC requesting that CALEA's reach be expanded to cover communications that
travel over the Internet.
Report on security risks of applying CALEA to
VoIP. The current FBI and FCC direction on CALEA applied to VoIP carries great
risks. … Building a comprehensive VoIP intercept capability into the Internet appears to require the
cooperation of a very large portion of the routing infrastructure, and the fact that packets are carrying
voice is largely irrelevant. Indeed, most of the provisions of the wiretap law do not distinguish
among different types of electronic communications. Currently the FBI is focused on applying CALEA's
design mandates to VoIP, but there is nothing in wiretapping law that would argue against the extension of
intercept design mandates to all types of Internet communications.
of E-Mail Raises Questions. The wiretapping law broadly
protects eavesdropping on messages that are not stored — such as an
unrecorded phone conversation — but does not afford the same legal
protections to stored messages.
Justice Dept. Worries About
Internet Calls. A Justice Department official told a Senate panel yesterday [6/16/2004] that law
enforcement officers might lack the authority to monitor the phone conversations of terrorists and criminals
under a proposed law governing calls that travel over the Internet.
FBI Proposes Increased Wiretapping
Privileges: In a move that may signal the Bush Administration's intention to seek additional
legislation that some have dubbed "Patriot Act II", the FBI recently submitted an 85-page filing to the FCC
requesting that all broadband Internet providers rewire their networks, making it easier for police to perform
wiretaps. The proposal, which has the backing of the Bush Administration, would require companies to
build back doors into programs ranging from instant messaging and Voice Over Internet Protocol to live video
game service such as Microsoft's Xbox.
When You Call, Who Is Listening? Are
telephone companies working hard enough to make sure that the government can spy on your calls? "No,"
said the FBI, in a recent petition to the Federal Communications Commission. What is now at stake before
the FCC is whether Americans may expect privacy for their phone calls. The FBI is demanding surveillance
powers going far beyond those it has a lawful right to claim.
Every dial you
take: The FBI is asking for more information about what you do on the phone,
and no one is saying no.
Technology: They'll Know Where You Are: Under the so-called Communications
Assistance for Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (CALEA) police are given the authority to track
the locations of any cell phone users even if they're not dialing 911.
Court deals blow to privacy
rights: Pennsylvania justices rule that government can intercept phone calls. A
4-to-3 majority on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said that a person has no idea who may be
listening in on the other end of the phone line and, therefore, cannot believe the information being discussed
won't be revealed.
nation: The British government's plan to wiretap the entire country is so outrageous it seems to
have been put forward just to see if anybody is paying attention.
Terror laws "eat away at privacy":
"The internet is being turned into a surveillance device and eventually surveillance will be a core design
component of computers," warned Simon Davies, head of Privacy International.