Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement (CALEA)

Practice Areas

Ensuring network conformity to support law enforcement efforts

We help new and established telecommunications service providers, interconnected VoIP providers, and broadband and Internet service providers ensure that their networks conform to the requirements of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA).

Among myriad legal and regulatory obligations Form 499 filers are subjected to is CALEA compliance and the duty to maintain and file a System Security and Integrity Plan (SSI Plan) with the FCC.

While many service providers comply with their practical, day-to-day responsibilities to assist law enforcement, such as responding to lawful subpoenas, there may be gaps in compliance with some of the technical, administrative, and esoteric requirements. 

Failure to file an SSI Plan can lead to forfeiture exposure, and recently expanded enforcement can be initiated by something as simple as a late 499 registration, which in one case resulted in a $180,000 fine.

CALEA Responsibilities for telecommunications carriers and penalty exposure for violations

Pursuant to CALEA, telecommunications carriers (“entities engaged in the transmission or switching of electronic communications to the public for hire,” including wireline, wireless, broadband Internet access, and two-way interconnected VoIP providers) must ensure they can, upon appropriate legal authorization, isolate and deliver intercepted communications to law enforcement.

Isolation and delivery require: 

  1. technical solutions to ensure communications can be intercepted, and
  2. following the policies and procedures adopted to supervise and control assistance to law enforcement in a carrier’s SSI plan.

Carriers must submit their SSI plan to the FCC for review and acceptance and appoint a senior officer or employee to ensure intercepted communications or call-identifying information can be activated only with appropriate legal authorization and the appointed individual’s affirmative intervention.

Failure to comply with CALEA subjects a carrier to significant penalties, including exposure up to $20,731 per violation or day up to a maximum of $155,485. Penalties for failing to comply with CALEA are in addition to penalties for other violations, such as failing to complete a 499 registration or to file with the FCC.

Given the compounding nature of these penalties, complying with requirements before an investigation—particularly one triggered by a minor omission—is critical.

Our attorneys work individually with clients to create a comprehensive program for providers of communications services necessary to sustain a high level of cyber security and data protection. We are experts at helping clients understand the complex federal, state, and international laws that govern cyber security and law enforcement access. 

We also help service providers with government compliance issues that arise under ECPA, CALEA, FISA, Cable and Wiretap Acts and in implementing Wiretap, FISA, Pen Register, Trap and Trace Orders, and NSLs.

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