FCC reinstates surveillance plan

FCC reinstates surveillance plan

By Joe Baker

By Joe Baker

Senior Editor

The Federal Communications Commission has ruled that U.S. telephone companies, including mobile phone carriers, must provide law enforcement with new surveillance abilities by June 30.

Companies will have to honor law enforcement requests for numbers dialed after a call is connected, the numbers and associated signals of the parties joining a conference call or dropping from one; call waiting and call forwarding signals and signals pertaining to messages left for a caller.

Reuters reported the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia banned those requirements in 2000 because, the court said, the FCC did not adequately respond to cost and privacy concerns raised by the carriers and privacy advocates.

The 57-page order upholding the banned capabilities held their use was cost effective and would reduce costs to residential customers.

Commissioners said all wireline, cellular and broadband PCS carriers must implement the provisions of the punch list by June 30. The order was adopted April 5.

The FCC said much of the software needed to put the plan into operation is already developed and should speed implementation.

Carriers still could challenge the ruling in court or ask the commission for more time to comply.

A trade group for the wireless industry said the order doesn’t make clear whether some wireless services, such as Internet browsing and short-messaging services, would come under the surveillance requirements.

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