Appeals Court Backs Bush on Wiretaps


A federal appeals court has ruled against a challenge to an expansion of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) to cover network traffic. CALEA requires providers of telecommunications services to make their systems available to law enforcement for authorized wiretapping. The FCC has sought to expand CALEA to cover Internet networks also. The appeals court ruled 2-1 that the FCC is permitted to apply CALEA to networks. A coalition representing higher education had challenged the expansion of CALEA, saying that the law was not written with data networks in mind and that such an expansion would impose considerable costs on higher education for compliance.Speaking for the majority, Judge David Sentelle said the FCC'sinterpretation of CALEA to cover data networks was reasonable. Judge Harry Edwards, who dissented in the opinion, said the FCC discounted an exemption in the law for information services.

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