FBI Seeks Internet Telephony Surveillance

from the there-goes-the-VoIP-neighborhood dept

To some extent, I think Jeff Pulver purposely brought this on himself to get the publicity, but I’m not sure anyone realized how strong the reaction would be. Last month Pulver asked the FCC to say that his Free World Dialup voice over IP system shouldn’t be regulated like a regular phone line because it was really just another internet application. The phone companies, of course, freaked out, and said this was clearly a phone system. Now, the FBI has weighed in as well, saying that if FWD isn’t regulated (by which they mean subject to wiretapping laws) terrorists will use it to communicate. Of course, people who want to figure out a way against being overheard will always find some way around such wiretaps, so if they can’t use FWD, they’ll just find something else instead. It doesn’t do anything to stop terrorists from communicating, but it does slow the growth of a service like FWD. If you’ve never used FWD, it’s actually quite interesting. It’s a VoIP system using an actual telephone (not computer based) that is entirely separate from the regular phone system – so you can only call other FWD users. While that’s somewhat limiting, there already is a pretty large group of FWD users – and you can easily see how families and friends who live far away from each other might all sign up for FWD to stay in touch. So, it’s not quite like something like Vonage, but, it is free. I’ve only tested it out once, but the quality was very good. Pulver, I’m sure, will be talking about this next week at his VON Conference where (by the way) I’ll be speaking.

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