The clock is ticking for service providers which are yet to prepare their networks for full compliance with the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA).
The controversial wiretapping law (basically an expansion of previously passed wiretapping laws) was passed by Congress in 1994 to give law enforcement the means to tap into IP
communications networks and record phone conversations – as well as to collect call record details. It came about mainly because law enforcement was facing huge technological challenges to tapping into VoIP
networks. The main regulatory hurdle which needed to be overcome was how to come up with a standardized method for collecting call data (which can be based on either proprietary or open signaling protocols) from IP-based networks. This agenda was pushed by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, which basically had no standardized means for tapping into IP networks to listening in on VoIP phone calls.
As per the law, which has been revised numerous times, VoIP service providers have until May 14, 2007, to provide law enforcement with the means to tap into their networks. CALEA stipulates that it must not be possible for a person to detect that his or her conversation is being monitored by the respective government agency. CALEA might eventually be broadened to include all forms of Internet communications.
Service Providers are allowed to use “trusted third parties” to set up their networks for CALEA compliance. Basically, this involves the implementation of a specific type of network architecture, and some equipment, installed at the network edge, which enables law enforcement to “tap in” to the network without anyone knowing about it. These third parties are allowed to process requests for intercepts, conduct electronic surveillance, and deliver information to law enforcement agencies (LEAs) – however, the service provider itself is ultimately held responsible for getting the data to LEA requesting it.
The big stinger for service providers is the cost of all of this. Most have already shelled out tens of thousands of dollars to get their networks ready for compliance – and those using trusted third parties will need to sign contracts for continuous services – even though their networks may never be tapped.
SS8 Networks is one of the best known providers of CALEA compliance solutions in the U.S. The company announced yesterday that San Antonio, Texas-based service provider Pocket Communications has joined the many companies now using its Xcipio Platform for lawful intercept. Specifically, Pocket will be using Xcipio on its 3G
wireless network. Although its wireless network has been CALEA compliant since May 26, 2006, it decided to use SS8’s LI solution to enhance its existing LI capabilities.
“We chose SS8’s platform because of its recognized leadership,” said Amir Rajwany, executive VP and CTO of Pocket Communications, in a press release. “Xcipio’s standards-based technology allowed us to enhance a lawful intercept solution in a cost-effective manner, all without interruption of service to our customers.”
Rajwany added that the Xcipio platform “was able to seamlessly interface with our network architecture, including both traditional Nortel (News - Alert) switching elements and 3G wireless data components.”
Currently providing service providers with lawful intercept capabilities for an estimated 100 million US subscribers, SS8 is able to tailor its scalable solutions to meet specific requirements. The result is lawful intercept technology that has been proven across a broad range of network architectures and equipment interfaces. The company’s expertise in communications forensics ensures that intercepted traffic is securely targeted, seized, stored, transferred and analyzed, so that evidentiary chain of custody is maintained for successful criminal prosecution.
For more information, visit www.ss8.com
Patrick Barnard is Assignment Editor for TMCnet and a columnist covering the telecom industry. To see more of his articles, please visit Patrick Barnard’s columnist page.