Info Tech, Law

With Skype’s SkypeOut service, internet telephony has truly arrived, but this brings with it a whole set of questions. Most importantly, will VoIP be regulated? Aswath Rao thinks it will have to be, and he even submitted his views to the FCC:

There is one aspect that did not come up in the Forum that I would like to bring to your attention. What is the nature of a call between a VoIP user and a PSTN user? If, for the sake of argument it is decided that VoIP is an Information service, is the interworking call a telecommunications service or an information service? The reason this is important is the phone user has certain rights. Will they be preserved now? Should a VoIP provider facilitate Malicious Call Tracking? Can they? What happens to Do Not Call registry? Will it be preserved?

Now, I’ve already encountered this issue. I tried using Skype to contact a landline phone that had CallerID blocking (thus blocking all calls without a valid CallerID), since I wasn’t calling from a phone, it wouldn’t let me through! Without some kind of regulation this will actually hurt VoIP. Even though I’m on the national Do Not Call registry, I am once again receiving telemarketing calls, and I’m pretty sure they are VoIP calls from India.

But the real question isn’t whether these things should be regulated — its whether they can be? It seems to me that with VoIP running on decentralized P2P networks it will be really hard to regulate or control, although I’m sure they will try their best.

BONUS LINK: Here is another good blog on VoIP issues.