The Federal Bureau of Investigations is working to convince Internet companies and Voice over IP service providers to go along with a proposed federal law that would require them to build back doors into their systems to facilitate government surveillance operations, reports CNET.
Federal plans to broaden wiretapping laws to include internet communications companies have been in the works since VoIP became a more prevalent form of voice communications nearly a decade ago. But no specific proposal came to light until September of last year when the Obama Administration, conservative political groups, Republican lawmakers and law enforcement officials called for a federal law requiring providers to open encrypted communications to surveillance.
The proposed expansion to the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), if enacted by the Federal Communication Commission, would have an immediate effect on Skype, which encrypts the voice data traveling through the per-to-peer networks the service relies on. Several other services, such as PGP creator Phil Zimmerman’s Zfone and even hardware VoIP hardware manufacturers such as Cisco facilitate phone call encryption and would likely be affected.
According to CNET, the FBI has conducted meetings with U.S. Senators and undisclosed major internet company officials and argued that the shift from traditional telephone systems (that are relatively easy to wiretap) to the Internet is hampering efforts to track suspected illegal activities and has asked internet companies to voluntarily agree to not oppose laws that would make backdoor access to encrypted services mandatory.