Ashcroft wins Internet wiretap system

U.S. regulators last month ruled tentatively in favor of an FBI and Justice Department proposal that would compel Internet broadband and VoIP providers to open their networks up to easy surveillance by law enforcement agencies.

At issue is the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), a federal law that mandates surveillance backdoors in U.S. telephone networks, allowing the FBI to start listening in on a target’s phone calls within minutes of receiving court approval. Last March, the Department of Justice, the FBI and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration jointly petitioned the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for a ruling that cable modem companies and other broadband providers are also covered by the law.

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