Wire Tapping Rules Slow Down University WiFi

from the gotta-make-sure-you-can-tap dept

There have been plenty of stories about technical problems associated with municipal-level WiFi projects, but this one may be a first. The WiFi network designed to cover Bowdoin College and its neighbors in Brunswick, Maine has been put off indefinitely, due to worries over whether or not the network needs to be wiretap-ready for the FBI. There’s been a long debate going over whether or not CALEA wire-tapping rules should apply to internet access, and an FCC ruling last year on the subject didn’t create any separate rules for colleges and universities. Some believe that if the network is for students and faculty only, it doesn’t need to follow the wiretapping rules — but others aren’t so sure. Either way, this particular network has been put on hold until someone from the FCC explains to the CIO at Bowdoin just what the requirements are when it comes to wiretapping compliance.

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Comments on “Wire Tapping Rules Slow Down University WiFi”

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Anonymous Coward says:

if you use a payphone, can that be tapped w/o a warrent? when you use public services, you open up a new level of privacy. since the program is designed for the community at large, i believe there’s more of a risk involved, so those must take care. you don’t have to use the city’s wifi, just go home and use yours. remember, you are following their rules. if you don’t like, don’t use it

however, i am concerned what this means for those coffee shops and bookstores with free wifi now. does that mean they’ll have to adjust for “wiretapping” abilities in the future?

ps. first

MrPaladin says:

Dont look a gift horse...

.. in the mouth.

Its free, your civil rights are not being infringed when your sending signals out from your home…

I’ve heard of several colledge professors who should be arrested for some of the crap they sprout.

But seriously if you want the FBI to be able to catch bad guys, you have to enable them in some things, while I know we all dont want to be cavity searched every time we go into a supermarket, I think this is reasonable…

Kuziam says:


“I’ve heard of several colledge professors who should be arrested for some of the crap they sprout.”

so you think people should now be arrested for speaking their opinions in “colledge”? Here’s an idea, lets just throw out the first ammendment and all become sheep that follow whatever dubya and his goons lay out for us w/out question.

dennis parrott says:

Re: whatever

…just remember that there are goons on the left and there are goon on the right…


both are out to oppress you and rob you of your freedoms and the only way we the people will ever safeguard our freedoms is to throw both the left and right out of government.

you can whine about dubya and his goons all you want but there isn’t a shred of evidence that any Democrat would be any better — witness the fact that it was Billy Bob Clinton who gave us such gems as CALEA, the Clipper Chip, DMCA …should I go on?

unless we all band together and throw ALL THE BUMS OUT — meaning all incumbent politicians at all levels and refuse to elect any more republicrats or demicans we’re gonna get this sort of crap…

TJ says:

Re: whatever

“several colledge professors who should be arrested for some of the crap they sprout.”

Many thousands of Americans have died to protect our freedoms, one of which is the right to free speech.

So another option might be to arrest people who dishonor their sacrifice by calling for the end of free speech.

Including people who can’t spell college or spout.

Bob Wasson says:

give up some freedom?

In the words of an infamous man, “”How lucky for those in power that people don’t think.” – Adolf Hitler

Now, come on people – think this through before you give up the freedom that so many gave their lives for us to have! What would be next in the name of National security??? Know for sure that our government’s curiosity would not be satisfied with this little bit of information. Where would they stop — or would they stop?

your wakeup call (user link) says:

Re: Love It

criminals and terrorists? the US govt. is the criminal and the terrorist!

don’t tell me you believe the “official” 9/11 fantasy too — 19 guys (7 of which are alive still today) defeat the laws of physics (buildings fall at the speed of gravity through pancakes) and the greatest military defense system on earth (NORAD runs hijacked plane airdrills that day), led by a guy from a cave! come on!


for starters, see WTC 7 fall



WTC landlord admitted on PBS that he called for the building to be demolished at 5:30pm that day.

Response 2 9 says:

Um….if you know anything about hippies they were all for personal freedom not giving the government any power. So in your response you showed how much of an unknowledgeable idoit, blinded by your stupidity. Wiretapping is an important government tool to catch terrorists, inteligent criminals and intelligent people know how to protect themselves from that stuff.

Anonymous Coward says:

Some folks cant read a history book.

America will be no different should it follow the type of path the gov would want us to.. lower our freedoms, then over decades slowly transition to where our political and social thoughts are monitored with every bit of efficiency (even more) than in 1984 (the book, in case anyone wonders). Then we’ll suddenly look around, see how the world has changed so slowly that the lay people didn’t even see it coming and thought all the changes were for the better all along the way but realize we’re all pawns. And not a thing that can be done about it.

Meanwhile, the aforementioned ‘intelligent people’ will have left the country for someplace with more sense. Or maybe stayed and fought a civil war, but I doubt that. Much easier to move. πŸ™‚

ProGov says:

And in Response....

#13 – Good luck on that. Not saying there isn’t merrit for your theory, facts are though it’ll never happen. UNLESS: things spiral so far out of control that we have no option but to do what you suggest, and unfortunately as bad as it is, it’s not rock bottom yet so the left and right will be right there where they always have.

#14 – Much better πŸ™‚

isitjustme? says:

This is easy

If anybody wants to tap a wi-fi network it is much better to ‘listen in’ on the wired part of the network and not worry about the wi-fi bit. This way you can capture all of the traffic on the network and not just the people who are in range of the listening device. Also in this case, whoever wants to ‘listen in’ has to at least get the permission of the ‘colledge (sic)’ if not apply to a court of law.

Your ‘colledge (sic)’ professors really aren’t very clever (which explains a lot about your ‘colledge (sic)’ educated ruling class.

ElKroppo says:

Cheap, readily available encryption

The really dedicated terrorist types are surprisingly well educated with regards to technology. The only people caught by packet sniffing are those who are to ignorant, apathetic, or innocent to use these encryption programs.

Large government is never your friend. What you are doing might be legal now, but it takes just one rider tacked to a budget to make you a criminal. Keep that in mind when you are spouting (not sprouting) the “catch the terrorists and criminals” line.

Astral says:

Hear hear…….I’m mean it’s crazy what people are willing to give up in the name of securing us from terrorism! I find it funny that there are people that honestly think you can wipe out a phenomenon like “terrorism” by waging a war and a few new laws. How will slowly giving up right after right change anything? This is nothing new and we all know how this sort of thing turns out. Just a suggestion but, I think it would be far easier to make some foriegn policy changes. This just might have a little more effect on “terrorism”.

By the way…before anyone calls me anti-american just know that I’ve already been deployed to Iraq once and I’m sure will go again…willingly I might add. If you want me to help someone…fine I’m down with that but, I’m not risking my life so I can come home to a friggin police state!

Anonymous Coward says:

Astral: I hope the military is full of you types.. because if ever a civilian government asked our military to stand down in a significant way, I’ve always suspected that especially in the future thanks to career military types and a culture gap between civilian and regular military people that the military would probably first privately suggest the leadership changes its mind.. and when it didn’t, remove or castrate the civilian leadership and claim to be standing up for whats ‘right for America’.. which apparently would be a police state.

But if there’s lots of folks like you in, then perhaps such a fear wouldn’t come true. Even if the top brass wanted to topple the government, if the guys actually carrying the guns didn’t go for it then it wouldn’t happen.

Pretty easy to see division already taking place. Eisenhower admitted he didnt have full control over the military or knew all that it did, and he was famously ex-military himself. No president since has probably known. Easy to see division in the country as well, with California signing up with Britain on the carbon market thing.. I didn’t even think the constitution allowed that sort of state-foreign nation alliance πŸ˜›

nikolai says:

Re: Garbage

No, WTC #7 was “pulled”, or demolished by choice intentionally. The owner was recorded on video (I’ve seen it on the internet, just do a search and you can see it too) saying to go ahead and pull the bldg, as supposedly it was damaged by the twin towers, but really it wasn’t. What did bldg 7 contain? Lots of documents including ones from Enron, WorldCom, etc. This is fact.

Twinkiman says:

More info

My university aswell is facing these problems. CALEA is a large deal for places with large infrastructure as it means, if you can’t follow their broad and confusing deffinitions of “public network”, you must buy completely new hardware that is CALEA complient. This problem not only effects WiFi, but also wired networks aswell (usually not such a big deal). The only practical solution our university has faced is simply closing off every computer to a login provided by the university. Too bad for people who want to use an access terminal or our library resources. The paperwork for issuing every guest that comes to our university a login is way too big. The major problem facing lots of corperations is that even though the senate says everybody must be CALEA complient, not very many manufacturers have started producing this hardware. So why not just go buy from the few manufacturers…. places like mine have a non-compete clause in our contract with them saying we can’t buy other networking switches except through them. Personally I see this as adding a government backdoor to every public system that is just begging to be hacked wide open.

LowandSilent says:

Sanity, anyone?

Okay. It appears that there are a large number of people who are worried about the “abuse” of the government being able to listen in on internet traffic. Just as with other modes of gathering info, a warrent is generally involved, which means that a judge (usually there to protect everyone’s well-being) is involved somewhere. The government isn’t just going to listen in to your traffic, so calm down. You’re not that important anyway.

The main problem is that the government tends to lag behind when it comes to dealing with new technology as it emerges. So, it is understandable that this college is having problems deciding if it needs to meet the compliance with the standing law, or just wait around till someone decides to do something about it.

I say, for them, they should just leave it non-compliant and plead innocent if the gov’t decides to come along and get angry if they need to tap in and listen to some traffic. Plus, any sysadmin who is worth his salt should be able to run a packet sniffer and do some tapping of their own (compliant or not).

Rob says:


The reported wiretap issue is… hogwash. There is no technical barrier to a wiretap addition, regardless of the WiFi system design. There is something else afoot. Perhaps yet another Bowdoin budget squabble or turf war. No stand on civil liberties by Bowdoin. That’s the real story. Freedom eroding at the edges.

-Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both. – Ben Franklin

Rob says:


The reported wiretap issue is… hogwash. There is no technical barrier to a wiretap addition, regardless of the WiFi system design. There is something else afoot. Perhaps yet another Bowdoin budget squabble or turf war. No stand on civil liberties by Bowdoin. That’s the real story. Freedom eroding at the edges.

-Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both. – Ben Franklin

hitler says:

Wifi is a last crap, shame of the whole IEEE. They must known this will happen but they created it and because of this organisation is unique and superior noone change it. Of course you can use various crypting methods vpns etc in wireless but the avarage user doesn’t even know about this. So congrat to IEEE. In my opinion it would be better waiting for another 10 years with the wifi crap and make some basically secure network instead of this. And we will see incidents about wireless again and again so I can laugh on the whole wireless user community and run my aircrack and kismet again and again πŸ˜›

viztor says:


The terrorists are attacking us! Quick, put on these chains!

The political parties are irrelevant. They both obey the lobbyists who buy the laws the corporations want at the expense of the people. Take the money out of politics–public campaign financing with a dollar limit, paid on the basis of number of party members, with an extra allowance for new parties trying to get attention. A nonpartisan, professional group to run elections would help too.


Hitler Sucks says:

IEEE...Is awesome

as a member of IEEE, my views may be biased, but i believe your points are rather well…dumb. (excues me for being rude)

IEEE is a great orginization that stood up to the emerging technology and came up with standards for industry to follow. w/o standards every time you upgrade one piece of hardware, you’d have to buy a complete new system. standards are there to make true competition. if something better comes up, hey, let it. so before you bash IEEE, when was the last time someone other than IEEE came up with standards for networking?

Damian Wiest says:

ISP Would Provide Law Enforcement Access

I recently asked one of the netadmins for a telephony/voip company if they had any regulatory requirements related to CALEA, etc. I was told that their telco providers are the ones that would need to provide access to law enforcement personnel.

I can only assume that the college would be in a similar situation. Their internal network is private and wouldn’t need to be accesible to law enforcement under CALEA. Any connections from inside the private network out to the Internet are subject to CALEA, but it would be the ISPs responsibility to provide access, not the universities.

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