Is "Gobbledygook" A Legal Term?

from the hooray-for-understanding dept

Last summer, the FCC ordered that broadband ISPs and VoIP providers had to rework their networks to make it easy for law-enforcement groups to carry out electronic wiretaps. They based the order on the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, which was specifically designed to make it easier for police to get voice wiretaps, so a group of privacy and technology groups sued, saying the FCC overstepped its bounds in using the law to justify easier data wiretaps as well. A federal appeals court judge has now slammed the FCC’s argument, calling it “wholly ridiculous”, “gobbledygook” and “utter nonsense”. While no judgment was given, it doesn’t look like the judges are looking too kindly at the FCC’s contention that CALEA could be used to justify forcing broadband ISPs to implement the wiretapping measures, though it would appear that they will let the order stand for VoIP services. The FCC’s contention that broadband services should fall under this particular law contradicted their stance that they weren’t telecom services and not subject to extensive regulation — and appears the appeals judges have noticed. When it’s so common to see the legal world misunderstand technology, it’s nice to see some judges actually appear to understand the tech issues of what’s going on in a case.

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Comments on “Is "Gobbledygook" A Legal Term?”

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Felix L Scott says:


I was taught by some very good public school teachers during the fifties and the sixties. I went to college and worked for a bachelor’s and a master’s degree, which I earned during the seventies. I worked twenty years as a public school music teacher and retired. Language was not my specialty, but I know the subject well enough to substitute teach it.

When Colin Powell’s son was the head of the FCC, I listened to some hearings he spoke at. I didn’t understand anything he said. I wonder if I am alone in misunderstanding this vocabulary?

I was taking a class in Seattle with The Bill and Melinda Gate’s Foundation for a public library I was working for at the time. The instructor’s were teaching us some things about the new technology when we ran across a graphic that didn’t appear to have a name. The teacher’s were baffled to give the graphic a name. They briefly discussed the object when one of the more confident instructor’s called the object “a spot”. They all agreed that indeed the object was “a spot”.

Hey what do they know? What I know and $1.00 will buy you a cup of coffee.

DG Lewis (profile) says:

Tech issues?

It’s not clear that the judges understand the tech issues so much as they understand the legal issues. In Brand X and the DSL rulings, the FCC has said that ISPs are information services. In the CALEA rulings, the FCC has said that ISPs are subject to CALEA rules. The statute says that information services are not subject to CALEA. The judges seem to be saying that the FCC’s arguments are logically inconsistent, and that the FCC can’t have it both ways. You don’t need any particular understanding of the technology to make that point.

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