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Date: 1999-11-19

US: CALEA [=ENFOPOL] Alert


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q/depesche 99.11.19/1

US: CALEA [=ENFOPOL] Alert

So fügt sich eins ins andere: allüberall die nämlichen
Vorstöße der gesetzlich ermächtigten Behörden, E-Mails,
GSM und IP-Telefonie abhörmäßig in den Griff zu kriegen.
Die American Civil Liberties Union [ACLU] und EPIC
[Electronic Privacy Information Center] reichen Klage ein.

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WASHINGTON, DC -- The Electronic Privacy Information
Center (EPIC) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
today asked a federal appeals court to block new rules that
would enable the FBI to dictate the design of the nation's
communication infrastructure.

The challenged rules would enable the Bureau to track the
physical locations of cellular phone users and monitor
Internet traffic. In a petition to the U.S. Court of Appeals for
the District of Columbia Circuit, the groups say that the rules -
- contained in a Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
decision issued in August -- could result in a significant
increase in government interception of digital
communications.

The court challenge involves the Communications Assistance
for Law Enforcement Act ("CALEA"), a controversial law
enacted by Congress in 1994, which requires the
telecommunications industry to design its systems in
compliance with FBI technical requirements to facilitate
electronic surveillance. In negotiations over the last few
years, the FBI and industry representatives were unable to
agree upon those standards, resulting in the recent FCC
ruling. EPIC and the ACLU opposed the enactment of
CALEA in 1994 and participated as parties in the FCC
proceeding.

Today's court filing asserts that the FCC ruling exceeds the
requirements of CALEA and frustrates the privacy interests
protected by federal statutes and the Fourth Amendment.
According to EPIC's General Counsel, David L. Sobel, "The
FBI is seeking surveillance capabilities that far exceed the
powers law enforcement has had in the past and is entitled to
under the law. It is disappointing that the FCC resolved this
issue in favor of poli
ce powers and against privacy."

Sobel said that the appeals court challenge "raises fundamental privacy issues affecting the American public. This case will likely define the privacy standards for the Nation's telecommunication networks, including the
cellular systems and the Internet."

In a report issued last year, the ACLU warned that the Clinton Administration is using scare tactics to acquire vast new powers to spy on all Americans.

"If the FBI has its way, the only communications medium invulnerable to government snooping will consist of two soup cans and some string -- and even then, I'd be careful," said Barry Steinhardt, Associate Director of the
ACLU.

"We are now at a historic crossroad," Steinhardt added. "We can use emerging technologies to protect our personal privacy, or we can succumb to scare tactics and to exaggerated claims about the law enforcement value of el
ectronic surveillance and give up our cherished rights, perhaps -- forever."

A separate challenge to the FCC ruling is being filed today in San Francisco by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which joined EPIC and the ACLU in proceedings before the Commission.

The privacy groups are being represented on a pro bono
basis by Kurt Wimmer and Gerard J. Waldron, partners at
the Washington law firm of Covington & Burling.

Background materials on CALEA, including documents filed
by EFF, ACLU and EFF with the Federal Communications
Commission, are available at EPIC's website:

http://www.epic.org/privacy/wiretap/

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edited by
published on: 1999-11-19
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