RE: COMMUNICATIONS ASSISTANCE FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ACT, CC DOCKET NO. 97-213
Pursuant to Section 107 of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act ("CALEA"),1 upon the filing of an appropriate petition, this Commission must specify technical requirements for wireless carriers to comply with the assistance capability requirements prescribed by CALEA. This task is an important responsibility, affecting the ability of law enforcement agencies to have access to critical information and the obligation of wireless carriers to implement systems that will provide that information. In prior proceedings, the Commission has attempted to complete this task. Today, we move ahead to implement the September 30, 2001 compliance deadline for carrier packet- mode communication electronic surveillance capability. We also commit to making the resolution of the remaining issues a priority, while temporarily suspending one of the compliance dates pending such resolution.
Specifically, today's Order includes a temporary suspension of the September 30, 2001 compliance date for wireless carriers to implement two Department of Justice/Federal Bureau of Investigation "punch list" electronic surveillance capabilities mandated by the Commission in a prior Commission Order.2 We do so because last year the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit vacated and remanded to this agency for further proceedings portions of that Order dealing with the other four of the six "punch list" items mandated by the Commission.3 We conclude that implementing compliance with "punch list" items at different times could result in major inefficiencies for carriers. In suspending this compliance date, we have established outside target dates for completing our actions on the remand proceeding and mandating compliance with these aspects of CALEA.
I believe it is incumbent upon us to act as swiftly as possible on the issues posed by the court's remand to us. I am pleased that the Order targets a date no later than the end of this year for completion of the remand proceeding and makes this proceeding a priority. I fervently hope, however, that the Commission will give this item the true priority it deserves and move forward on a date earlier than the end of the year. In the interim, I note that the Commission previously has encouraged carriers to cooperate with law enforcement agencies to achieve the capability to provide them with necessary information upon the receipt of appropriate and lawful requests.4 Now, more than ever, such encouragement appears to be well founded. The events of the past week cogently demonstrate the imperative of bringing these capabilities on line as soon as possible. This is no time for "business as usual" on this issue in either the private or public sectors.
2 Third Report and Order, CC Docket No. 97-213, 14 FCC Rcd 16794 (1999).
3 United States Telecom. Association v. FCC, 227 F.3d 450, 463 (D.C. Cir. 2000).
4 Third Report and Order, supra, at ¶ 101 ("We are confident that carriers and LEAs will work together to ensure that a wiretap is functioning correctly. We also note that there is nothing that would prevent carriers from providing this capability either on a voluntary basis, or with compensation from LEAs").