The last time I entered the blog space here at WhichVoIP, I called some attention to the patents pending from Microsoft and Digifonica’s subsidiary Voip-Pal. Both have similar patents in processing that are related to intercepting electronic information over a network. The “Legal Intercept” and “Lawful Intercept” requisitions from Microsoft and Voip-Pal, respectively, have a common theme that will allow service providers to monitor the transmissions over a network, enabling authorities to retain data on individuals labeled as a “person of interest.”
Essentially, the motion for Voip-Pal’s Lawful Intercept is being pushed forward by efforts from the US Government. Anyone communicating over a network which implements their application can potentially be monitored should the individual meet a certain criteria. This will give authorities the capability to observe persons of interest and record data that is transmitted to and from this person during a communication session. To put it in perspective, this is the same as a wire-tap in regards to a traditional phone services.
This practice is just now beginning to surface in the US, yet similar polices have been in effect in other parts of the world for many years. Throughout most of Europe, this tactic has been in implementation because of a mandate from the European Council Resolution of 17 January 1995 on the Lawful Interception of Telecommunications by the European Union. There was a large reluctance in the adoption of this policy, but it was deemed to be in the best interest for the safety of the people. Lawful Intercept is currently in effective implementation through Voip-Pal’s service www.PlatinumPhone.com. The services from PlatinumPhone exist as a VoIP service both as a web service and mobile application for iOS and Android. On the back-end, Voip-Pal’s lawful intercept practices are implemented into this service. Users that are identified as a “person of interest” could be subjected to monitoring by authorities.
The question of the moment is: where should the line be drawn when it comes to personal privacy? Though one party may be labeled as a person of interest, it does not necessarily reflect to the person on the other end of the communication. All data from these communications may be retained, not just the party in question. So for the person on the other end of the connection that lacks a label, the retention of their information seems to be an invasion of privacy.
At times, there is a difference in the execution of American law with respect to that which is allowed and what actually plays out. This methodology is reliant on profiling and stereotyping practices. Typically, such data is not supposed to uphold in a court of law, yet it is used in a round-about way to establish an assumed motive for those dubbed suspicious. Basically, any suspicious behavior can be enough to justify labeling an individual as a person of interest. Perhaps, if the criteria to do such is rigorous, this could be beneficial in crime prevention. However, as such decisions are made during closed procedure, the rest of the nation has little insight. The general public has no real way of knowing what the prerequisites are for becoming a person of interest, let alone if a certain protocol is accurately adhered to during such a process.