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CALEA (Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act) is a United States federal law that enables the government to intercept wire and electronic communications and call-identifying information under certain circumstances -- in particular, when it is necessary in order to protect national security. Originally designed for use with the telephone system, the FCC and DoJ were later petitioned to extend CALEA to the Internet. In September 2005, the FCC issued an order extending the CALEA to providers of broadband Internet access and interconnected voice-over-IP services. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit upheld that order on appeal.

Because many campuses and higher education networks fell under the definition of a “facilities-based Internet provider”, there was concern that this new order would require compliance by campus and other higher education networks. It was argued that the cost of compliance for campus networks would far outweigh the benefits it would give law enforcement. After thorough review, the final court decision appears to allow for most, if not all, campus networks to be exempt from compliance. For more information, please read: The Application of CALEA to Higher Education Networks, Thinking Through the CALEA Exempt/Non-Exempt Issue, and Letter from the Networking Policy Council.

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