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Government Technology Featured Article

November 20, 2012

Government Implements VoIP Monitoring Technology to Create 'Revolutionary' Eavesdropping Technology

By Allison Boccamazzo, TMCnet Web Editor

Today’s plethora of communication platforms seems like a great thing for consumers and everyday citizens; it allows us to talk to one another face-to-face with such tools as Skype (News - Alert), for example. This, however, is not so much fun for law enforcement agencies, which have been fighting the good fight against the ever-increasing amount of communications technology surfacing, which in turn makes it harder than ever for the world-wide government to conduct surveillance and eavesdrop on suspects’ communications.

This kind of communications monitoring serves as a vital part of the process of catching criminals or dangerous individuals. One California businessman understands this need for the tightening of communications security and management, who in fact claims he has a revolutionary solution – a next-generation surveillance technology designed to covertly intercept online chats and video calls in real-time, according to Ryan Gallagher reporting for Slate.

One of the main ingredients to devising this technology is Voice over IP (VoIP) monitoring. “Voice over IP chat software allows people to make phone calls over the Internet by converting analog audio signals into digital data packets. Because of the way the packets are sent over the Web, sometimes by a ‘peer-to-peer’ connection, it can be complex and costly for law enforcement agencies to listen in on them,” Gallagher explains, adding that these associated problems have led to places such as Ethiopia and Oman to block VoIP services altogether as based on their “security” flaws.

“In the United States and Europe, too, VoIP has given authorities a headache. The FBI calls it the ‘going dark problem’ and is pushing for new powers to force internet chat providers to build in secret backdoors to wiretap suspected criminals’ online communications,” he adds.

But now with the advent of ground-breaking new technologies, suspects whom authorities want to monitor for security purposes can be adequately identified via their username and subscriber data. According to one patent by VoIP-Pal, they can even be found by billing records that associate names and addresses with the username.

Such technologies, Gallagher explains, “would make it much easier than it is currently for authorities to monitor VoIP calls, by fundamentally restructuring the basic architecture of how the calls themselves are routed over the Internet.”

Only time will tell exactly how this technological breakthrough will define the future of VoIP monitoring.

To learn more about VoIP monitoring, click here.

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Edited by Rachel Ramsey

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