Cell Industry Wants Wiretap Deadline Suspended

A cellular industry trade group asked the U.S.þFederal Communications Commission to suspend a requirement that cellular carriers install equipment and software by September 2001 that would allow the government to easily eavesdrop on wireless data.þThe Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) said a U.S. Court of Appeals decision last week imposing strict legal requirements on law enforcement agencies under the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) will require the FCC to develop a new set of standards for the industry to follow.þTom Wheeler, CTIA president, said the court ruling would ensure that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies don't randomly sniff touch-tone codes used in wireless banking and stock-trading transactions.þMike Altschul, CTIA general counsel, said in a statement that the industry currently has a "binding deadline" from the FCC to comply with CALEA, but the court's decision "vacated" the current standards. "We are simply requesting that the current deadline be suspended until the new CALEA requirements are in place," Altschul said.þAN FCC spokeswoman said the agency is still "reviewing the court's decision in order to take the appropriate next steps" to meet the guidelines in the opinion, which will require law enforcement agencies to obtain search warrants to conduct electronic surveillance of data communications.

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