U.S. law enforcement officials said this week they will soon ask communications regulators to decide how wiretapping rules would apply to high-speed Internet services and want those answers before general regulations are set for those offerings.
That could complicate efforts by the Federal Communications Commission to begin setting rules for the nascent but growing Internet-based telephone service. The agency is tentatively planning to launch that effort Feb. 12.
Federal law requires telecommunications companies to ensure that law enforcement agencies like the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Drug Enforcement Agency can conduct surveillance such as wiretaps.
But with the emergence of new technology like wireless phones, Internet-based telephone calls and e-mail, law enforcement agencies have faced new cyberspace challenges.
"The petition ... will address a variety of issues including what broadband services and service providers should be subject to (the) Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement (Act of 1994) as well as the procedures needed to bring those services and providers into compliance," FBI Deputy General Counsel Patrick Kelley said in a letter to the FCC.