Why Yaana filed in this FCC Rule-making Proceeding?

April 25, 2020

A LI standards colleague brought to our attention that without most people realizing it, the FCC had on its own created a new CALEA rulemaking proceeding with a proposed CALEA technical standard. CALEA as you probably know is the 1994 law in the U.S. that requires communication providers to have the technical capacity to provide lawful interception (LI) of communications and the handover of designated customer retained data (RD) to law enforcement pursuant to proper authorization – generally a judicial warrant.

Ordinarily, the FCC is supposed to defer to CALEA technical standards for LI and RD that are developed by industry in collaboration with the FBI. So, for the past 25 years, the industry has proceeded to successfully engage in this activity. However, CALEA has a heretofore unused provision that allows the FCC to promulgate its own CALEA technical standards when there is a complaint that industry standards are insufficient.

In late November, the FCC on its own accord, turned an existing two-year-old proceeding attempting to ban “designated” telecommunication equipment vendors from the U.S. market, and compensating carriers with Universal Service Funds (USF), into a CALEA rulemaking proceeding and proposed a new CALEA technical standard. As the Commission noted, it was “looking for a source of its authority,” and appeared to think that CALEA for 5G was such a source.

The FCC proposed new “CALEA 5G standard” is very simple and states that a covered carrier/provider “must certify…that it does not…use…equipment or services [including software] produced or provided by any company designated by the Commission.” It is found in Appendix B on page 67 of the FCC document. The rest of the information about CALEA is found in paragraphs 35-37 and 132.

There is also a related rule that says that the FCC can on its own or “in response to a petition from an outside party, that a company poses a national security threat to the integrity of communications networks or the communications supply chain” designate any company as a national security threat within 31 days. Thus far, the only designated companies are “Huawei or ZTE, along with their subsidiaries, parents, and/or affiliates.”

An additional effect of the action is to make several billion dollars of USF monies available for the purchase of new 5G equipment.

Whatever one’s views are on the matter of wholesale banning of vendor equipment, there is legitimate concern about what the FCC is doing here.

1. Using CALEA to do this
2. Promulgating a new CALEA technical standard on its own that is essentially unintelligible
3. Moving forward without finding there is any insufficiency in existing CALEA industry standards
4. Failing to require industry’s adopted 5G LI/RD technical standards be applied to billions of dollars of new 5G equipment going into the infrastructure or funding CALEA 5G implementations.

These actions should concern everyone – especially those in the LI/RD industry of which Yaana is a part.

The URI for our comments is at:

The URI for the FCC proposed CALEA 5G rule is at: