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Appeals Judge Rebukes FCC on Wiretaps

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posted on May, 8 2006 @ 03:05 AM
A circuit court appeals court judge, Harry T. Edwards, took a frosty stance Friday in response to assertions made by a lawyer representing the FCC. The issue at hand is whether or not emerging technologies are covered in the scope of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, known as CALEA, passed in 1994 (the relevant provisions of which will have to be enforced next year). The hearing apparently did not go well for the FCC, their argument was deemed 'nonsense' and 'gobbledygook' by the judge.
A U.S. appeals panel sharply challenged the Bush administration Friday over new rules making it easier for police and the FBI to wiretap Internet phone calls. A judge said the government's courtroom arguments were "gobbledygook."

The skepticism expressed so openly toward the administration's case encouraged civil liberties and education groups that argued that the U.S. is improperly applying telephone-era rules to a new generation of Internet services.

"Your argument makes no sense," U.S. Circuit Judge Harry T. Edwards told the lawyer for the Federal Communications Commission, Jacob Lewis. "When you go back to the office, have a big chuckle. I'm not missing this. This is ridiculous. Counsel!"

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This is interesting. I don't know whether I like this Edwards guy or not. He's doesn't seem all that well-spoken, or maybe he's just flustered, but I do agree with him from what I've seen so far. There's no reason not to extend the provisions of CALEA to VOIP, but that's not what the FCC and the Justice Department are asking for - they want more.

I think under normal circumstances it's reasonable to pass laws insuring that equipment used to transfer data is accessible by law enforcement, but that's a far cry from the reality we're presently dealing with, which is a flashback to the Hoover days. I guess that's what happens when you bring all the old criminals back into power.

There's a material difference between authorities having access that facilitates the lawful gathering of intelligence crucial to national security, and authorities having limitless power to snoop on innocent Americans for political ends, with the consent/mandate of the Justice Department, no less. It's a shameful state of affairs. We expect them to use every tool at their disposal to investigate terrorists who mean to do America harm. What we don't expect them to do is use the apparatus of state against us, the citizens. No different than if a policemen had turned his gun on one of the people he was tasked to protect. It's a shameful abuse of power.

posted on May, 8 2006 @ 04:53 AM
It would be interesting to read the chastized councellors courtroom comments & arguments if for no other reason than to scope out just what he was arguing for. I will refrain from judging their merits until then. However, I do think VOIP comes under the intent of the law in question.

[edit on 8-5-2006 by Astronomer70]

posted on May, 8 2006 @ 05:24 AM
With VOIP being used more and more by big corporate players, they too would also be under surveillance. Hell, they already do that with "listening posts" like Menwith Hill

Government snooping of data and voice traffic has as much to do with corporate spying for economic gain as it does "National Security".

posted on May, 9 2006 @ 09:17 AM
And so it begins...the long war between the courts and constituition and what this administration wants, which is a police state. Let us hope and pray that the constitution wins. This battle will be won or lost entirely on how individual judges interpert the law, and Bush might be surprised...many of the most conservative judges might work out to be his biggest opponants. Let us hope so.

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