Professor Sue Crawford has written a nice review of the FCC regulation of VoIP in a research paper called The Ambulance, the Squad Car, and the Internet.
The Federal Communications Commission moved swiftly in 2005 to impose E911 and CALEA requirements .....In the CALEA context, law enforcement has persuaded the Commission to rely on extraordinarily weak legal arguments in insisting that online businesses and broadband access providers make their services acceptable to law enforcement - either before these services are launched, thus constraining innovation, or for existing services at great retrofitting expense. In both settings, the FCC has plunged quickly ahead to apply these policies to the internet with little consideration either for the economic impacts of its choices or for alternative strategies that might have been employed. And both policies have been lifted largely unchanged from what they had been in the world of telephony, even though the internet presents a very different technical and economic context.
Sue also has a great blog post: CALEA roundup: 2005-2007 --- a must read.
"Much of the tussle has to do with cost-shifting: the original CALEA statute authorized $500 million to be allocated to paying the carriers back for their efforts in connection with compliance, but there's no money being offered to the internet players. But a lot of the recent tussle has to do with how to move CALEA's obligations into the internet era. The problem is that CALEA was specifically written not to cover online applications like email and other "information services." And saying what online "call-identifying" (non-content) information is presents a difficult task."
Sue goes on to explain that the law and Courts say CALEA is about access, not content. It creates a grey area for the provider since there is no clear definition of what call-identifying obligations are for packet. Sue is a lawyer and a professor of law at Cardozo School of Law and on the ICANN board. She knows of what she speaks.