CALEA Legal Summary

Congress enacted the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (“CALEA”) in 1994, requiring telecommunications carriers to assist law enforcement in executing electronic surveillance pursuant to a court order or other lawful authorization. Carriers are required to design their systems to allow for surveillance to be performed upon launch. Since 2006, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has extended the requirements of CALEA to providers of two-way interconnected VoIP and broadband Internet access service. Common carriers, resellers, and CMRS providers are all covered by CALEA.

According to the FCC, the policy purpose of CALEA is to preserve the ability of law enforcement agencies to conduct electronic surveillance by requiring that telecommunications carriers and manufacturers of telecommunications equipment design and modify their equipment, facilities, and services to ensure that they have the necessary surveillance capabilities as communications network technologies evolve.

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