Date: Wed, 17 May 2000 19:13:09 -0600
To: Dave Farber <farber () cis upenn edu>
From: Brett Glass <brett () lariat org>
Subject: For IP: FBI insists it can tap e-mail without a warrant
Feds: No warrants for Net wiretaps
By Mike Brunker, MSNBC
May 17, 2000 7:20 AM PT
In a case with broad implications for communications technology, lawyers
for the Justice Department and a coalition of telecommunications and
privacy groups square off in federal court Wednesday to argue whether the
FBI should be allowed to intercept Internet communications and pinpoint
the locations of cellular phone users without first obtaining a search warrant.
At issue in the proceedings before the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington
are rules issued last year by the Federal Communication Commission
spelling out how telecommunications providers will be required to comply
with the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), passed
by Congress in 1994.
Among other things, the act requires telecommunications equipment
manufacturers and service providers to build into their systems the
capability for surveillance of telephone line and cellular communications,
as well as of services such as advanced paging, specialized mobile radio
and satellite-based systems.
After telecommunications providers were unable to reach agreement with FBI
officials on how to implement the monitoring capabilities, the FCC adopted
rules that in several areas went beyond the CALEA language - including a
requirement that cellular phones be traceable and that information on any
digits dialed after a call is connected, which could include such things
as account or credit-card numbers or call-forwarding instructions, must be
Warrant not required
As interpreted by the FCC, the act also would require telecommunications
providers to turn over "packet-mode communications" - such as those that
carry Internet traffic - without the warrant required for a phone wiretap.
Taken in total, the FCC rules amount to a "significant expansion" of law
enforcement's ability to monitor private communication, said Jim Dempsey,
senior staff counsel for the Center for Democracy and Technology.
"We're arguing that given the constitutional right to privacy, and given
Congress' concern about protecting that privacy that it was wrong for the
FCC to broadly interpret this statute to give more surveillance powers to
law enforcement," he said.
"Rules? This is the Internet." -- Dan Gillmor