College campuses in the US are being asked to foot the bill to allow law enforcement to eavesdrop on their students' online conversations.

In 1994 the US passed CALEA, a law requiring that telephone companies architect their systems so it's easy for law enforcement to tap digital phone calls. In 2004 CALEA was expanded to apply to the Internet, in particular voice-over-IP calls and other aspects of Internet communciation. Then the FCC got in the act, saying in August 2004 that CALEA would apply to pretty much anyone providing Internet access.

Which leads us to college campuses which, among other things, provide Internet access to their students. Now these campuses may not only have to help the government spy on their students and faculty, they may have to pay the bill! Just what you need on a non-profit budget.

Not only is this extension of wiretap privileges a violation of citizen privacy, it's a wasteful expense. EDUCAUSE is defending the academic institutions, filing briefs with FCC saying the requirements are too onerous. The whole concept of CALEA is wrong-headed, but the expense argument may actually work.

Thanks to the EFF; without them I wouldn't understand CALEA
  2006-02-26 17:44 Z