FBI Circulates Draft "Super-CALEA" Bill That Would Make Even J. Edgar Hoover Blush
At a meeting with industry representatives on July 7, the FBI circulated a draft of a supercharged version of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), the law that requires telecommunications carriers to build wiretap capabilities into their networks to facilitate electronic surveillance by law enforcement. CALEA has recently been the subject of regulatory action at the Federal Communications Commission and the D.C. Circuit, resulting in an expansive reading of the existing law to cover broadband Internet access providers and interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol providers. Not content with its victories in these fora, the FBI apparently is requesting expansive changes to CALEA. One look at the Bureau's "Super-CALEA" reveals that it is a pure law enforcement "wish list," with little or no attempt to balance competing interests as the current statute does. Indeed, the section-by-section analysis that accompanies the draft bill specifically explains that the purpose of one of the amendments is to demote privacy interests in favor of the carrier's "primary duty to facilitate access to all of the communications or communication-identifying information that a law enforcement agency has been authorized to obtain." What's more, the draft bill, if passed, would constitute a radical expansion of the FBI's access to (and control of foreign agencies' access to) purely foreign communications.