Wireless Week: CALEA Action Moves Backstage 8/18/97

Robert Hettinga rah at shipwright.com
Sun Aug 17 13:59:57 PDT 1997

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Subject: Wireless Week: CALEA Action Moves Backstage 8/18/97


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>From the August 18, 1997 issue of Wireless Week

CALEA Action Moves Backstage

By Edward Warner

WASHINGTON--The Department of Justice called off an industry-FBI meeting on
the 1994 digital wiretap law. However, sources say the parties involved are
trying to resolve their conflicts and will meet later this month.

Last week's meeting was to involve CEOs of wireless carriers, their trade
groups and both Attorney General Janet Reno and FBI Director Louis Freeh.

Sources said the industry asked DOJ to postpone the meeting. One source
said backstage discussions are now under way between the two sides and may
produce a proposed solution if adequate time is allowed.

Another carrier source said that due to summer holidays, too few CEOs from
wireless carriers were expected to attend. The executives, many of whom
have little hands-on experience with the Communications Assistance to Law
Enforcement Act, couldn't be brought up to speed with such short notice.

The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association earlier this month
asked the FCC to resolve the dispute because all carriers must comply with
the law by October 1998, and no standard is available. Reacting to the
FCC's request, Daniel Phythyon, head of the FCC's Wireless
Telecommunications Bureau, said there's "already an intricate process"
under way between the two sides. He could not say whether the FCC would
respond to CTIA's request.

The request was seconded last week in a joint petition filed by the two
civil liberties groups that focus on technology issues. Those groups, the
Center for Democracy and Technology and the Electronic Frontier Foundation,
said jointly that the FBI is trying to acquire extra legal wiretap powers.

Congress asked the industry to determine what new network functions
carriers must offer to comply with CALEA. However, the FBI is fighting the
proposed industry-supported functions. In the petition, the EFF and the CDT
said that much of what the FBI wants is impermissible. For instance, the
FBI previously requested that it be able to track mobile phones, even when
they're not being used. This, the two groups said in a statement, "would
effectively turn the cellular network into a nationwide, real-time location
tracking system."

CALEA compliance also is costly and makes the carriers susceptible to
invasion of privacy lawsuits, CTIA President and CEO Tom Wheeler said.
Wheeler, who was out of the country last week, has been a key force
pressing for the meeting.

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--- end forwarded text

Robert Hettinga (rah at shipwright.com), Philodox
e$, 44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'
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