ISP CALEA compliance

Steven M. Bellovin smb at
Fri May 11 02:13:15 UTC 2007

On Thu, 10 May 2007 16:03:49 -0400
William Allen Simpson <william.allen.simpson at> wrote:

> Congress "authorized" CALEA (and there is also argument about whether
> the recent expansion to ISPs was authorized at all), it cannot be
> required of the public until Congress *appropriates* the funds, and
> they are received by us.
> Just like the current argument about how to end the Iraq war.  Only
> actual appropriations count.
> Even non-lawyers should remember our basic civics lessons.
What appropriation?

Have a look at the actual text of the law at
(If the link doesn't work, go to and look for bill
H.R. 4922 from the 103rd Congress.  If that still doesn't help, email
me and I'll send you the PDF.)

Anyway -- for the most part, the law does not impose mandates on the
government, so there's no necessary appropriation.  The law requires
carriers to do certain things, which doesn't necessarily cost the
government money.  To be sure, the CALEA act does authorize money to
reimburse carriers for the changes -- see Section 109.  But that money
was for upgrading facilities deployed before 1995, which I suspect
applies to none of the gear we're talking about here... ("Help, my AGS+
isn't CALEA-compliant!")  The law (Section 109(d)) does say what
happens if the money isn't appropriated -- you're exempt until "the
equipment, facility, or service is replaced or significantly upgraded
or otherwise undergoes major modification."  Does that sound like your

(OT: When government spending is involved, Bill is absolutely right.
The framers of the Constitution were very careful to make sure that
Congress, not the President, had the right to raise taxes and
authorize spending, and that military appropriations in particular
could not be for longer than two years.  Why?  Because they were
intimately familiar with British history, much of which included a
perpetual struggle between the monarch and Parliament over money to
wage war.  If memory serves, Parliament gained control over that in
1243 (and definitely not very long after the Magna Carta), and it
regularly used that power to rein in the king or queen.  The monarch
did have direct control over certain revenue sources -- but anything
like that was carefully excluded from the American constitution....  It
isn't possible to understand the Constitution without knowing British

		--Steve Bellovin,

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