Digital Surveillance: The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act [Updated December 29, 2004]   [open pdf - 73KB]

"The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA, P.L. 103- 414, 47 USC 1001-1010), enacted October 25, 1994, is intended to preserve the ability of law enforcement officials to conduct electronic surveillance effectively and efficiently despite the deployment of new digital technologies and wireless services that have altered the character of electronic surveillance. CALEA requires telecommunications carriers to modify their equipment, facilities, and services, wherever reasonably achievable, to ensure that they are able to comply with authorized electronic surveillance actions. The FBI and other law enforcement agencies, the FCC, and Congress are all actively addressing CALEA-related concerns. On March 10, 2004, the FBI, the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration petitioned the FCC to identify additional telecommunications services not identified specifically within CALEA that should be subject to it. In response to the petition and after considering the comments and replies from interested parties, the FCC released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and declaratory ruling on August 4, 2004. In the NPRM, the FCC drew a number of tentative conclusions regarding CALEA applicability; addressed compliance issues; and developed a proposal for implementation costs and time frame. Comments and replies to the NPRM were due November 8 and December 7, 2004, respectively. Accompanying the NPRM was a declaratory ruling in which the FCC clarifies that commercial wireless 'push-to-talk' services are subject to CALEA, regardless of the technologies that wireless providers choose to apply in offering them."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL30677
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