FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE FRIDAY, MARCH 27, 1998

AG

DOJ, FBI SEEK TO IMPROVE TELECOM INDUSTRY STANDARDS ON CALEA

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation today asked the FCC to require telephone companies to preserve law enforcement's ability to conduct court-ordered electronic surveillance in the digital age. The two agencies filed a petition with the FCC seeking additions to the interim standard adopted by the telecommunications industry to meet requirements of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA). The petition was filed on behalf of federal, state and local law enforcement. The interim standard, adopted in December of last year, does not fully preserve law enforcement's ability to protect public safety and national security. Congress enacted CALEA in 1994 to help law enforcement maintain its ability to use court-ordered electronic surveillance in an era of new telecommunications technologies. Certain advances in telecommunications technology pose a serious threat to public safety and law enforcement's ability to investigate serious crimes, including murder, kidnaping, and terrorism. CALEA balances privacy interests with the needs of the telecommunications industry and of law enforcement. The DOJ and FBI cited in its petition a number of examples of how law enforcement's ability to conduct court-ordered wiretaps would be inhibited by the industry standard. Three examples are: A prisoner who speaks to criminal associates by having his girlfriend use conference calling to bring them together. Under the interim standard, law enforcement cannot monitor the conversation between the prisoner and the criminal associates after the girlfriend hangs up.

A criminal subject who goes back and forth between two calls with the flash feature. Under the interim standard, law enforcement cannot determine that the flash feature is being used and therefore cannot determine who is talking.

A criminal subject who uses an 800 calling card to make a call. Under the interim standard, law enforcement will not be able to determine the number the criminal subject is calling.

The assistance capability requirements that law enforcement is seeking do not expand law enforcement's electronic surveillance authorities granted by Congress. It only preserves

them in a new era of telecommunications. Law enforcement officials have worked diligently with the industry to develop a CALEA standard that addresses industry concerns while preserving law enforcement's electronic surveillance capabilities. DOJ has provided the telecommunications industry with its legal opinion on the requirements of CALEA missing from the industry's interim standard and hopes to continue discussions with industry officials on this matter. DOJ and FBI officials said they hope for an expeditious review by the FCC. ###

98-142