18 July 1997

     Communications Daily:

     Wireless Assn. Seeks FCC Intervention to Resolve Digital
     Wiretap Impasse 

     CTIA asked FCC Wed. to open proceeding on standards needed to
     meet digital wiretap law, conceding that opposition by FBI
     and law enforcement entities had made it "monumentally
     frustrating" to reach agreement without Commission
     intervention. CTIA Pres. Thomas Wheeler said petition seeks
     to draw FCC into process based on language in
     Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act
     (CALEA) that requires industry "in consultations with law
     enforcement" to develop standards that allow law
     enforcement units to monitor phone calls in digital format.
     Wheeler said meeting of standards body in Boston last week,
     at which he said FBI opposed any compromises, triggered
     application to FCC. 

     In recent weeks, CTIA sent letters to FBI Dir. Louis Freeh
     and FBI Electronic Surveillance Technology Section Chief Ed
     Allen offering final compromise to adopt standards while
     resolving more critical disagreements separate from
     standards-setting. Wheeler said FBI had refused to accept
     offer. "We still have no consensus standards," he said. "We
     now need to change the venue." He pledged to continue
     negotiating with FBI even as FCC considers petition and
     vowed to continue talks even if Commission opens
     proceeding. FCC official said no decision had been made on
     petition by our deadline. 

     Law enforcement field has taken firm stand on requirements
     for gaining access to telecom traffic carried in digital format.
     FBI spokesman Barry Smith told us current industry
     standards, which CTIA said comply with CALEA "100%,"
     fall short of requirements. "In our view, the standards being
     proposed are lacking items law enforcement needs," he said. 

     CTIA acted alone, Wheeler said. Although digital wiretap law
     applies to all telecom carriers, he said, only CTIA has been
     aggressive in publicizing its continuing disputes with FBI. He
     said he and USTA Pres. Roy Neel met with FBI executives
     last year to discuss issue, but he didn't seek USTA
     endorsement when petition was filed. USTA said Wed. it
     didn't plan separate filing at Commission but didn't comment
     immediately on CTIA petition. Other trade groups didn't

     In petition, CTIA accused FBI of "stuffing" ballots in industry
     voting on standards that had been adopted separately from
     FBI proposals. Wheeler said that by mid-May,
     Telecommunications Industry Assn. -- which routinely
     circulates proposed standards among "interested parties" to
     achieve consensus -- received 60 ballots, 35 in opposition,
     with 33 of those from law enforcement agencies, including
     28 that attached FBI rationale to ballot. "This stopped the
     standards setting in its tracks," Wheeler said. Further balloting
     under auspices of American National Standards Institute
     (ANSI) is expected to produce additional opposition, mostly
     from law enforcement: "This ballot box stuffing has further
     delayed the standards process," CTIA said. 

     Wheeler said industry opposes FBI demands for 500-millisec.
     response time for linking call set up with actual call, saying
     existing wireline technology can't support such standards. He
     also complained about requirement that law enforcement be
     able to continue monitoring conference calls even after party
     being monitored has dropped off call. FBI also has sought
     technology that would turn wireless phone into homing
     device, allowing agents to pinpoint location of call. Delays
     threaten to put telecom industry in violation of law, which
     takes effect in Oct. 1998, although without standards,
     Wheeler said, it can't meet tests. He described 2 issues as
     "double whammy," forcing industry to raise costs to meet
     FBI standards while running afoul of mandates. He also
     feared civil rights groups would file suit when companies
     provide access without approved court orders. 


July 16, 1997, San Jose Mercury News:  

  Phone firms resist FBI wiretap gear    New York Times  

  Asserting that the FBI is trying to force the development of wiretapping 
equipment that goes beyond the law, telephone industry executives said 
Tuesday they would petition the Federal Communications Commission to resolve 
a dispute over the limits of digital surveillance in the information age.

 Industry executives are expected to ask the commission to step in today 
after more than two years of negotiations with law enforcement authorities 
over standards for advanced digital telephone switching gear intended to 
permit the police and FBI agents to listen to suspected criminals.

 The two sides failed to reach an agreement at a meeting last week in Boston.

 ``We've come to an impasse and only the FCC can resolve it,'' said Stewart 
Baker, a Washington lawyer representing the industry.

 FBI officials said Tuesday they were still confident that disagreements with 
the industry could be worked out. Another negotiating session is scheduled 
for next week.

 ``We're still committed to the negotiating process,'' said Edward Allen, 
section chief in the Information Division at the FBI. The Communications for 
Law Enforcement Act, which was signed into law by President Clinton in 1994, 
calls for spending $500 million to modify the nation's telephone network for 
wiretapping and specifies a standard-setting process to redesign the 

 Telephone industry officials have warned that the cost of making the 
modifications requested by law enforcement might run into the billions of 
dollars. They also contend that the FBI has overstepped its mandate and is 
trying to control the process of setting standards. The law, they say, 
specifies only that the agency will be consulted in setting the standard.

 Industry executives say their companies will be at risk of being sued by 
civil liberties groups over privacy invasions.

 Law enforcement is asking for the ability to maintain a wiretap in a 
conference call even after the individual who is the object of the court-
authorized wiretap drops out of the phone call. Such a capability would 
require costly modifications to the telephone network, industry officials 

 ``We're taking this action out of monumental frustration,'' said Thomas 
Wheeler, president of the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, a 
trade group in Washington.

 The telephone industry is facing an October 1998 deadline to comply with the 
law. Wheeler said the members of his association were growing increasingly 
concerned that in the absence of a standard they would have insufficient time 
to develop new products that comply with the law. The legislation provides 
for $10,000 a day in penalties for companies that fail to meet the