VoIP tapping policy slammed

News Article - Thursday, 15 June 2006 10:26

Category: Connectivity

A number of experts have slammed US government efforts to require VoIP providers to permit police to tap into internet phone conversations.

A new report says that a rule to require VoIP wiretapping by May 2007 would result in enormous costs to the industry and new cyber security problems to the internet.

Organised by the Information Technology Association of America (Itaa), the study argues that wiretapping VoIP calls would prove more complicated than those of traditional phone lines because VoIP providers have little control over how calls are routed across the net.

In addition, the internet would be exposed to new vulnerabilities if ISPs were required to respond in real time to requests for them to record VoIP calls.

Whitfield Diffie, chief security officer at Sun Microsystems, added: "You find yourself in a technologically very, very complicated problem.

"It's not inconceivable that a system of that kind could be built. You have a magnitude of vulnerability--I can't think of any parallel in any system we've seen so far."

Backed by the Bush administration, the Federal Communications Commission ruled last year that VoIP providers allow wiretapping by May 2007.

Defending the ruling, Tim Richardson, senior legislative liaison for the Fraternal Order of Police, commented: "If that was going to increase the propensity for crime, that's something that law enforcement would take a look at.

"But the adaptability of technology is so great in this day and age that I have a high degree of faith in the initiative that [companies would employ to find something] that's not as costly and doesn't compromise the security of their networks," he told CNET News.com.

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