Regulating VOIP

Yesterday, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee passed a Voice Over Internet Protocol Bill.
VOIP Regulatory Freedom Act of 2004 (S. 2281) regulates VOIP at the federal level and preempts state law with three major exceptions. States may still enforce laws and regulations of general applicability, including consumer protection laws and prohibitions against fraud and unfair trade practices. States and local governments may still require 911 and E911 services. States may still regulate transmission facilities and require VOIP providers to pay compensation to incumbent carriers for the use of facilities and contribute to the universal service fees. The bill does not affect VOIP telephony providers obligations under CALEA.
The bill requests a report from the GAO in order to assess:

  • technical capability of law enforcement to intercept and analyze IP transmissions
  • problems encountered by law enformcement when intercepting communications over the Internet or using IP
  • assessment of options for law enforcement agencies to acquire the skills and equipment necessary to analyze Internet communications
  • assessment of the first 10 years of CALEA implementation, compliance along with a cost-benefit analysis.

From the FCC, the bill requires a study assessing the first 10 years of CALEA.
Thomas: Bill Summary and Status
News.com: Senate panel embraces state VoIP taxes

ut in an unexpected twist, Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., persuaded the committee to adopt an amendment that permitted states to regulate VoIP services in two ways: levying taxes to pay for universal service and for compensating traditional telephone companies for the use of their phone lines through so-called access charges.

Law Practice Today: Everything You Need to Know about VoIP