Statement By Attorney General Eliot Spitzer Regarding The Fcc Decision On Surveillance Of Telecommunications Equipment

I am encouraged by the steps that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has taken to ensure that law enforcement has continued access to court-authorized wiretaps in the face of advancements in communications technology.

The FCC's Declaratory Ruling that "push-to-talk" services are subject to the Communications Assistance to Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) will shut down what had been a tap-free zone in wireless telecommunications services used by criminal suspects to evade surveillance by law enforcement.

I strongly support the FCC's proposal that CALEA apply to broadband internet services - whether wireline, cable, satellite, wireless or even powerline - and to Voice Over Internet Protocol services. The commission also has taken into account the financial limitations of state and local law enforcement entities by tentatively concluding that the costs of CALEA implementation will be borne by the telecommunications carriers rather than law enforcement.

I urge the commission to move swiftly to implement enforceable rules that will ensure that all of the nation's law enforcement entities have the ability to access new telecommunications services pursuant to court-ordered wiretaps.

Given the strong signal that the FCC has sent to the providers of new, internet-based services, I hope that these companies will begin immediately to develop and deploy technologies to allow law enforcement agencies to execute court-ordered wiretaps on their services. This is a critically important matter for our state's and nation's security.

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