U.S. telephone companies, including mobile phone carriers, will have to provide law enforcement officials with some new surveillance capabilities by June 30, the Federal Communications Commission said on Thursday.
WASHINGTON, April 11 (Reuters) – U.S. telephone companies, including mobile phone carriers, will have to provide law enforcement officials with some new surveillance capabilities by June 30, the Federal Communications Commission said on Thursday.
Carriers will have to provide upon request from law enforcement agencies the numbers dialed after a call is connected, numbers and associated signals of various parties who join a conference call or drop from one; call forwarding and call waiting signals; and signals related to obtaining messages left for a caller.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia vacated those so-called punch-list requirements in 2000 because it said the FCC failed to address adequately privacy and cost concerns raised by carriers and privacy advocates.
The FCC issued a 57-page order upholding the four challenged capabilities and found that their implementation was cost-effective and would minimize costs on residential customers.
“We find it reasonable to require wireline, cellular, and broadband PCS carriers to implement all punch list capabilities by June 30,” the FCC said in an order unanimously adopted on April 5 and released Thursday.
“The record indicates that much of the software required to implement the punch list items has already been developed which should significantly speed implementation,” the agency said.
Two other punch list items that carriers will also have to comply with include providing the FBI and other law enforcement agencies with timing information about calls as well as the content of conference calls by the target of an investigation.
Carriers could again challenge the requirements in court or appeal to the FCC for more time to come into compliance.
The trade group for the wireless industry said it was disappointed with the order because it did not clear up whether certain wireless data services like Internet browsing and short-messaging services are subject to surveillance requirements.
“The Commission said it would address such requirements in this order, but by avoiding the issue it leaves the industry guessing about future standards for surveillance,” Tom Wheeler, head of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association, said in a statement.
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Author: Reuters Business
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