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FCC chairman says the feds need more wiretapping powers after Paris attacks

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler told Congress yesterday that, following the attacks on Paris, wiretapping laws should be expanded, The Washington Post reports.

Recommends expanding "lawful intercept" definition

Wheeler's comments focused specifically on the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, known as CALEA, a 1994 act that forced telephone companies to make their phones easier to wiretap and that has been controversially extended to other communications. Wheeler, in his comments, suggested further broadening the scope of "lawful intercept," which provides for law enforcement wiretaps under CALEA.

Wheeler told Congress that media reports suggested the attackers "were using PlayStation 4 games to communicate on," an idea which has been debunked, and said "there's probably opportunities to update the ‘lawful intercept’ concept." If the law or is changed or the FCC is told by law enforcement to change regulations, it "will respond," a spokesperson for the agency told the Post.

The comments come amid a long-standing debate over encryption and "backdoors" for government agencies, which has only intensified after the attacks on Paris.