Groups Sue Agencies Over Wiretap Costs
Two telecommunications groups want a federal court to find that law enforcement agencies are overstepping a law aimed at preserving their ability to tap telephone and other communications in the digital age. The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Assn. and Personal Communications Industry Assn., which together represent cellular, paging and other wireless companies, filed suit in federal court in Washington against the Justice Department and the FBI. The dispute concerns who--the government or the industry--should pay to modify telecommunications equipment installed on or before Jan. 1, 1995, so that it can be wiretapped digitally. The telecommunications groups say a 1994 law requires the government to pay. The suit contends the FBI, in regulations issued last year and in a move to shift more of the burden to companies, redefined what equipment costs would be covered by the government.