FBI Asking VoIP Companies to Voluntarily Support Backdoor Access to Users’ Phone Calls

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.


  1. Zfone has been MIA for a long time now — will this ever get resolved?!


    “Problems with Our Download Server
    29 January 2011 – Sorry, but our download server is offline. We were using a download server at PGP Corp for many years, but they were acquired by Symantec in June 2010, and yesterday their download server became no longer available to us. To replace the special functionality of the PGP download server, we need to set up a new download server that is compliant with US export controls. It will take some effort to set up another server with all the “due diligence” checks in place, so this may take quite a bit of time to resolve.
    We will remove this error notice when the problem has been fixed..

    When we get the new download server running, it will have to implement all the due-diligence measures that PGP Corp used on their server. Their server checks your IP address against the list of embargoed countries (for example, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Sudan), then emails you a link that you must click on to start your download, and checks your IP address again when you follow that link, which presumably means you did not receive your email in an embargoed country, and that the download itself did not go to an embargoed country. The U.S. Government deems this as adequate evidence that we made our best efforts to comply with U.S. export laws, which keeps us out of trouble.”


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