August 5, 2005

FCC Requires Certain Broadband and VOIP Providers to Accommodate Wiretaps

In a news release the FCC determined that providers of certain broadband and interconnected VOIP services must be prepared to accommodate law enforcement wiretaps. The Commission found that these services can essentially replace conventional telecommunications services currently subject to wiretap rules, including circuit-switched voice service and dial-up Internet access. As replacements, the new services are covered by CALEA, which requires the Commission to preserve the ability of law enforcement agencies to conduct court-ordered wiretaps in the face of technological change.

The First Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, FCC 05-153 - referred to in the FCC's August 5, 2005, news release noted above - was released by the FCC on September 23, 2005. In the order, the Commission concluded that CALEA applies to facilities-based broadband Internet access providers and providers of interconnected voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service. This Order is the first critical step to apply CALEA obligations to new technologies and services that are increasingly relied upon by the American public to meet their communications needs. The Commission went on to note that they will release another order that will address separate questions regarding the assistance capabilities required of the providers covered by the FCC 05-153 order pursuant to section 103 of CALEA. This subsequent order will include other important issues under CALEA, such as compliance extensions and exemptions, cost recovery, identification of future services and entities subject to CALEA, and enforcement.

July 27, 2005

Federal Register / Vol. 70, No. 143 Rules and Regulations

The FCC published a notice 70 Fed. Reg. 43323 (2004) that states that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) has approved the extensive information collection mandates contained in the FCC's VOIP E911 Order.

June 3, 2005

IP-Enabled Services: E911 Requirements for IP-Enabled Service Providers
WC Docket No. 04-36
WC Docket No. 05-196

The FCC released its First Report and Order and Notice of Proposed Rulemaking FCC 05-116. In this Order, the Commission adopted rules requiring providers of interconnected voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service to supply enhanced 911 (E911) capabilities to their customers. The characteristics of interconnected VoIP services have posed challenges for 911/E911 and threaten to compromise public safety. Thus, the FCC required providers of interconnected VoIP service to provide E911 services to all of their customers as a standard feature of the service, rather than as an optional enhancement. The Commission further required them to provide E911 from wherever the customer is using the service, whether at home or away from home. The FCC made no findings regarding whether a VoIP service that is interconnected with the PSTN should be classified as a telecommunications service or an information service.

July 14, 2004

IP-Enabled Services
WC Docket No. 04-36

The Department of Justice filed reply comments under WC Docket Nos. 04-29 and 04-36 on In its comments the law enforcement community stated that IP-enabled services hold tremendous promise for the American economy, and the DOJ fully supports the Commission's undertaking of this important task of considering the proper role for the Commission with regard to such services. The DOJ also wants to encourage entrepreneurship, innovation, and widespread deployment of technologies that make Americans more productive. At the same time, it is important to keep in mind the critical task of protecting our citizens. With these goals in mind, the DOJ urges the Commission to act in the best interests of all Americans by imposing only those regulations necessary to accomplish important public policy goals such as the protection of public safety, national security and privacy concerns.

May 28, 2004

Petition of SBC Communications Inc. for Forbearance of Title II Common Carrier Regulation to IP Platform Services
WC Docket No. 04-29

The Department of Justice filed comments supporting the Commission's use of forbearance authority to remove Communications Act obligations to the extent the Commission believes such obligations to be inappropriate, although DOJ expresses no opinion on particular forbearance decisions that the Commission might make. The Commission must recognize, however, that section 10 does not allow the Commission to forbear from enforcement of CALEA. CALEA's obligations apply to all providers of IP networks and to many providers of IP services and applications, as outlined in DOJ's pending petition for rulemaking.

May 28, 2004

In the Matter of IP-Enabled Services
WC Docket No. 04-36

The Department of Justice filed comments which recognized that issues of CALEA applicability are distinct and reserved for the separate CALEA Rulemaking Petition, we urged that the Commission consider implications of actions in this proceeding to its ability to effect its stated goal that CALEA apply expansively -- i.e., to VoIP and other IP-enabled services. We appreciate the Commission's recognition and support for law enforcement's important mandate to maintain public safety.

March 1, 2004

Level 3 Communications LLC's Petition for Forbearance
WC Docket No. 03-266

The DOJ, FBI, and DEA (together "Law Enforcement") filed joint comments expressing no opinion regarding the merits of Level 3's petition. However, law enforcement urged the FCC not to make any pronouncement that would put CALEA's applicability to broadband telephony services into question, including any statement that Level 3's voice-embedded IP communications are information services under the Communications Act.

January 15, 2004

BellSouth's Emergency Request for Declaratory Ruling
WC Docket No. 03-251

On January 15, 2004, the DOJ, FBI, and DEA (together "Law Enforcement") filed joint comments opposing an Emergency Request for Declaratory Ruling filed by BellSouth Telecommunications, Inc. "BellSouth") before the FCC. In its petition, BellSouth requested that the FCC issue a ruling preempting state public utility commission decisions that require BellSouth to provide wireline broadband Internet access and DSL access services to BellSouth's local exchange carrier competitors. Law enforcement opposed BellSouth's petition based on concerns that this could have a negative impact on the ability of federal, state, and local law enforcement to conduct lawfully-authorized surveillance under CALEA.

December 1, 2003

FCC Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Forum

The DOJ, FBI, and DEA submitted joint comments to the Forum on December 15, 2003. These comments, along with other parties' submissions, are available to the public. For further information regarding the Forum, please visit the FCC VoIP Forum website.

September 26, 2003

Vonage Holdings Corporation Petition
WC Docket No. 03-211

The FCC released Public Notice DA 03-2952 regarding Vonage Holdings Corporation's (Vonage) Petition requesting that the FCC preempt an order of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission requiring Vonage, and its VoIP service offering, to comply with state laws governing telecommunications carriers. The DOJ and FBI filed joint comments on October 27, 2003, opposing Vonage's petition. On November 24, 2003, the DOJ and FBI filed joint reply comments in this proceeding in response to other parties' comments.

May 25, 2003

Pay-Per-Call Proceeding
CC Docket No. 96-146

The FBI filed reply comments in the FCC pay-per-call proceeding in which the FCC is considering whether to modify the pay-per-call rules adopted pursuant to the Telephone Disclosure and Dispute Resolution Act of 1992. In its comments, the FBI sought clarification that wireless broadband voice services are "telecommunications services" subject to CALEA.

February 5, 2003

Pulver.com's Free World Dialup Petition
WC Docket No. 03-45

Pulver.com filed a Petition for Declaratory Ruling with the FCC requesting that its point-to-point broadband VoIP service be designated as an "information service" under the Communications Act. On February 14, 2003, the FCC released Public Notice DA 03-439 which established a pleading cycle for comments regarding Pulver.com's Petition. The DOJ and FBI filed joint comments in the proceeding on March 14, 2003.

Fiber to the Premises Broadband Service
WC Docket 04-242