EPIC `100 Reasons' Campaign Combating Activism Overload on Wiretap Bill
Date: Tue, 27 Sep 94 16:23:50 PDT
Subject: EPIC `100 Reasons' Campaign Combating Activism Overload on Wiretap Bill
Forwarded-by: bostic@CS.Berkeley.EDU (Keith Bostic)
From: Wendell Craig Baker <email@example.com>
Gotten a bit zoned out on all the calls for protest on that legislation
flying through Congress lately? Clipper chip, Digital Signature
Standard, Network Wiretap Conversion, Encryption Export rules. Why there's
one of these privacy thangs each month. Its enough to make any but the
most fanatical among us glaze over, go back to reading alt.tv.simpsons
... or alt.simpson.trial.
So the nice folks at the Electronic Privacy Information Center have
set up a little contest called ``100 Reasons'' wherein they will be
publishing on the Internet the 100 reasons why you, a regular Joe,
should care about the pending FBI Wiretap Bill.
Included following is a letter of explanation from Marc Rotenberg of
EPIC explaining their program. Following that is Brock Meeks
overview of the subject. Finally I have included the EFF's ``Hearing
Summary'' for the hardcore among you. Take your pick: EPIC -- a light
dose over a couple of days; Meeks -- witty and a bit profane; EFF -- just
the facts that fit.
A one-paragraph summary of the subject is:
H.R. 4922 and S. 2375 by Rep Don Edwards (D-CA) and Sen. Patrick Leahy
(D-VT), would require telecom carriers to ensure that law enforcement
is not prevented from conducting authorized electronic surveillance.
On the civil rights front, the worry is that this effectively means
that there must be a means to wiretap built into all telecom systems.
On the financial front the question is who will pay for all of this.
A wiretap-type tax is mentioned Rep. Alex McMillan (R-N.C.)
Independent of one's views on the subject, the `100 Reasons' is a very
interesting and novel use of the Internet for a public awareness campaign.
Let's watch, shall we?
From: Marc Rotenberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: Wendell Craig Baker <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, 20 Sep 1994 12:38:54 EST
Subject: 100 Reasons
Subject 100 Reasons
From Marc Rotenberg
To Wendell Craig Baker
Reply to: 100 Reasons
100 Reasons to Oppose the FBI Wiretap Bill
Thank you for your interest in 100 Reasons. This campaign was begun by
the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, DC. The goal
is to promote greater public understanding of the implications of the
FBI Wiretap Bill now pending in Congress.
During the next few weeks EPIC will be posting Reasons to different
news groups on the Internet. There is no single location on the Net to
obtain all the Reasons. Keep watching the news groups. Prizes will be
offered to the people who compile all 100 Reasons (alligator clips,
spy glasses, etc). Voters Telecomm Watch will also be posting
information about the status of the bills.
Contact your Representative and your Senator. Express your concerns
about the proposal.
EPIC is project of the Fund for Constitutional Government and Computer
Professionals for Social Responsibility. CPSR is a national membership
organization. For membership information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or
check out the web server at CPSR.ORG.
What To Do: email Senator Patrick Leahy (email@example.com)
Express your concerns about the FBI Wiretap proposal.
100 Reasons is a project of the Electronic Privacy Information Center
(EPIC) in Washington, DC.
Date: Tue, 13 Sep 1994 23:05:49 -0700
From: "Brock N. Meeks" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
CyberWire Dispatch // Copyright (c) 1994
Jacking in from the "Riding A Straw Horse" Port:
Washington, DC -- If the government can't guarantee it will pay your
telephone company for the full cost of making it easier to wiretap your
conversations, you could end up paying for it on your phone bill.
Unlike the bogus "modem tax" of urban legend fame, the costs of paying to
implement the Digital Telephony bill could eventually led to a kind of
"digital wiretap tax." No, this is no joke. And it's closer than you
The idea of a kind of wiretap surcharge tax, which would be imposed on all
phones, was a scene in the sub-text of an often edgy Congressional hearing
Tuesday held to flesh out the problem areas of the FBI's bastard child: The
Digital Wiretap Bill.
The House Telecommunications & Finance Subcommittee rounded up the usual
suspects are generally grilled them on two specific issues: What will this
cost? How the hell are we going to pay for it?
Rep. Alex McMillan (R-N.C.) went so far as to suggest that a special
"Anti-Crime Surcharge" tax be levied on every single phone in the U.S. to
help pay the cost of installing wiretap software throughout the U.S. "I
think that the American public would be willing to pay this," he said with
a straight face.
The crux of the problem is that the FBI insists that the $500 million
currently authorized to pay for all these wiretap software modifications is
enough. When that pot of money runs out, "it's not really a concern of
mine" who ends up paying, said FBI Director Louis Freeh, the corners of
mouth curled ever so slightly in an almost Bruce Willis trademark smirk.
But from industry's standpoint, the $500 million is "chump change" as one
telephone executive whispered into the ear of his blonde companion during
Although $500 million "is hardly chump change," as Freeh later said, the
economics here suck, no matter whose calculator you use.
There are less than 1,000 wiretaps done each year, according to official
Justice Dept. statistics. The government is giving the telephone companies
$500 million and 4 years to complete the entire rewiring of America.
You do the math. You're going to pay $125,000 *per* wiretap per year for
the next four years. That's a lot of coin to pony up in light of the fact
that last year state prosecutors "determined that only 20 percent of all
[wiretapped] conversations were relevant" to on-going investigations,
according to the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC). At the
Federal level, EPIC says, "only 17 percent were relevant."
As the bill stands now, your $500 million will have to cover all the
software and hardware modifications necessary to make your local telephone
line "wiretap ready." It doesn't matter if you live in New York City,
where the majority of wiretaps are issued to eavesdrop on guys with names
like "Big Tony" or "Nick the Weasel" or in Blue Balls, PA, where there
probably hasn't been a legal wiretap officially issued in decades -- the
FBI wants its wiretap access to be universal and complete within 4 years, 6
at the outside.
The actual cost to implement this bill is more along the lines of
"billions" according to Roy Neel, president of the United States Telephone
Association (USTA) and who, in another life was on the staff of Vice
President Gore and served at the Cabinet level in the early months of the
Clinton White House.
Neel gave the example of the giant phone company BellSouth, which hasn't
been cooling its jets waiting for this bill to pass. These guys have
already been out getting estimates on how big a financial hit they'll take
if the bill passes, Neel said. Answer: $138-$247 million for its wireline
And that's only one of the Seven Sisters of Our Lady of the Dial Tone.
Don't forget the country's biggest local phone company, GTE, which also
happens to still have a large installed base of outdated and in some cases,
antique telephone switches. Then there are the 1,100 or so "mom and pop"
telephone exchanges in rural areas. These smaller exchanges also will have
to upgrade their systems. No one escapes.
Why? Well, hell, if you're the FBI you just never know when you'll have
to, say, oh... go to all the trouble of flying into some small Texas town
and roll out the armored personnel carriers and firebomb the plywood
compound of a religious wacko.
So, just in case that shit happens again, the FBI wants to be able to
listen in when the Religious Head Wacko growls on his cellular phone:
"Jimmy, bust out the scatter-guns. God and an informant just told me the
Feds are coming to reap their heavenly rewards."
Trust Us. We'll Pay. No, Really.
FBI Director Freeh admits there's no way to nail down the actual cost.
"But it may turn out that it's significantly less than $500 million."
That's what he desperately wants you to believe.
It's a fantasy.
The National Association of Regulatory and Utility Commissioners estimates
that telephone companies spent $1 billion per year on software
USTA's Neel testified that one of his association's member company's "with
only moderate law enforcement obligations" ends up spending some $3.7
million yearly to handle more than 100,000 subpoenas. "These expenditures
of time an personnel are borne by the companies alone, without government
reimbursement, even though the companies frequently request compensation,"
When it comes to paying up, the government has a poor repayment record,
Neel implies. There's no reason to believe the government will actually
repay the telephone companies for all their costs, even though required to,
Neel said. This is because the language of the bill is too ambiguous, he
Such ambiguity lead Thomas Wheeler, president of the Cellular
Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) to call the bill
"substantively sound but fiscally flawed." He called the bill an "unfunded
mandate" in which the government demands require cellular telephone
companies "obey and spend" the money to install the wiretap software,"then
we'll see if we can reimburse you."
When the Well Runs Dry
If the money runs out, who pays? That's what Rep. Rick Boucher (D- VA)
wanted to know. "I'm persuaded that these costs should be borne by the
government," he said. Otherwise, it's the ratepayers that get stuck with
the bill or it's industry themselves, which will only drain money from
implementing emerging technologies which would slow down deployment of the
information superhighway, which would leave it up to cable companies to
develop and then... god help us...
Boucher asked FBI's Freeh what happens if Congress fails to even give him
the original $500 million. "I doubt that Congress would pass on the
opportunity to make sure that our children were safe from terrorists,"
But Boucher came right back: "I wouldn't be surprised if appropriated
funds don't make it... we have enough problems here coming up with money
for discretionary programs."
Rep. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said the bill should be amended to assure that if
the money runs out there's no "hidden wiretap tax" imposed on the American
public. He said the issue is one of "accountability." By making sure
government pays, it means that someone has to track the spending, "making
sure that we don't legislate a blank check." He said if the cost after 4
years is passed on to the telephone companies, state regulators would
probably allow the costs to be passed on to the customers as "a legitimate
And Still No Pressing Need
Freeh calls the passage of the wiretap bill a "drop dead issue" for law
enforcement. In Tuesday's testimony he continued to ride the straw horse
of probable cause. Freeh, again, trotted out an "informal" FBI study that
had identified 183 instances where FBI wiretaps have been "frustrated" by
But when Dispatch pressed Freeh for details on these 183 instances of
"wiretap frustration" (covertus interruptus), he admitted that "most" of
those instances weren't officially wiretaps at all. Of those 183 instances,
30% were caused by the cellular company not having enough physical
connections to allow the Bureau to borrow into the cellular switch. Easy
-- but expensive -- fix: Buy more ports for the cellular switch.
The next level of "problems" came from "the inability to capture dialed
digits," Freeh said. "Do you mean pen registers, as in, the things that
don't need a court order to get?" Yes, Freeh said. Of the 183 "wiretap"
problems caused by digital technology, about 19% were pegged to pen
register problems. The "other" category took home the rest of honors and
included other non-wiretap technologies used by the FBI, such as "trap and
USTA's Neel said, for what must be the 1000th time now: "We know of no
instance where a court authorized wiretap has been thwarted by digital
Hey, Boss? The Mafia
Wants To Rent Office Space
Another area of contention is that this bill doesn't cover every single
telecommunications company. USTA wants it to cover everyone from the
makers of answering machines to your local Internet provider.
The FBI would like this too, however, they realized this was politically
more capital than they had to spend during this congress. Even so, the FBI
found an unlikely ally in the process: The Electronic Frontier Foundation
At the end of the previous hearing on this bill, FBI Director Freeh patted
EFF Policy Director Jerry Berman on the shoulder and said: "Who would have
thought, two years ago, that we'd be collaborating like this." And
Tuesday, the subcommittee Chairman Markey (D- Mass.) thanked EFF for
"brokering" a tough compromise among all interested parties.
In all fairness, the EFF was able to broker stronger privacy protection for
electronic communications and kept -- for now -- all online services out of
the grasp of this bill.
But the bill still treats some networks differently. Mainly, these are
"shared tenet" networks, which are phone systems such as those strung
together between buildings. These private networks handle all their own
calls, billing, etc. Sometimes they can be huge, dwarfing the majority of
rural telephone companies in both scope and technology.
The World Trade Center is an excellent example. The WTC's network is
exempt under this rule. The FBI can't wiretap it, or so it would appear.
Why? Because it's digital and private and oh shit...
"This creates a safe haven for criminals," says USTA's Neel. Indeed, even
the FBI's Freeh admits that some criminals will be able to go "off
network," allowing "a part of the sophisticated criminal world" to not be
covered under this bill. Are you getting this?
All a criminal has to do then, is, say, set up offices in the WTC and
chatter away all they want because the FBI can't wiretap their phones
because these networks won't be required to install the software! But
Freeh was quick to point out that "we feel that the majority of our
dangerous criminals fall under the universe of this bill's coverage."
So, What the Hell
Does the Public Want?
Freeh is convinced that you will support this bill. It's all a matter of
perspective, he said, a kind of syntactical slight of hand: "Ask the
American public if they want an FBI Wiretax and they'll say 'no.' If you
ask them do they want a feature on their phone that helps the FBI find
their missing child they'll say, 'Yes.'"
But in fact, statistics complied by the Justice Department seems to
indicate otherwise. In 1991, the latest year figures are available, most
Americans, across all age groups, disapproved when asked the question:
"Everything considered, would you say that you approve or disapprove of
wiretapping?" Some 67% of all 18-20 year olds gave the thumbs down, as did
68% of the Gen-X crowd (and Newsweek said these kids were confused...).
Boomers disapproved of wiretapping almost 3-to-1 while 67% of those 50 and
Yep, it's a "drop dead issue" alright.
SENDER: Stanton McCandlish <email@example.com>
Subject: DigTel: EFF Hearing Summary - House Telecom. Subcmte. - Sept. 13, 94
Date: Wed, 14 Sep 1994 12:37:37 -0400 (EDT)
EFF HEARING SUMMARY September 14, 1994
HOUSE TELECOMMUNICATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE CONSIDERS DIGITAL TELEPHONY PROPOSAL
On Tuesday September 13 the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on
Telecommunications and Finance held a hearing to examine the Digital
Telephony legislation. The bill (H.R. 4922/S. 2375), introduced in August
by Representative Don Edwards (D-CA) and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT),
would require telecommunications carriers to ensure that advanced
technology does not prevent law enforcement from conducting authorized
electronic surveillance. Tuesday's hearing focused mainly on questions of
cost. More specifically, whether all future costs associated with law
enforcement surveillance capability should be borne by private industry or
Witnesses appearing before the panel:
Louis Freeh, FBI Director
Tom Reilly, Middelsex County (Mass) District Attorney
Richard Metzger, FCC Common Carrier Bureau Chief
Daniel Bart, Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) V.P.
Jerry Berman, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Policy Director
Roy Neel, United States Telephone Association (USTA) Pres. & CEO
Thomas Wheeler, Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA)
TIA's Dan Bart and USTA's Roy Neel joined EFF's Jerry Berman in questioning
the necessity of any digital telephony legislation, expressing concern that
the FBI has not adequately substantiated its case that its surveillance
efforts are being frustrated by advanced telecommunications technologies.
However, all agreed that the Edwards/Leahy bill is substantially improved
over previous FBI proposals, noting its increased privacy protections,
prohibition of government design authority, and requirements for public
processes. On the issue of cost, TIA's Bart, USTA's Neel, and CTIA's
Wheeler all argued that forcing industry to incur compliance costs may slow
technological innovation and the development of the NII.
EFF's Berman also argued for government reimbursement, adding that, "if
the telecommunications industry is responsible for all future compliance
costs, it may be forced to accept solutions which short-cut the privacy and
security of telecommunications networks". He further noted that linking
compliance to government reimbursement has the benefit of providing public
oversight and accountability for law enforcement surveillance capability.
FBI Director Freeh stated that passage of the digital telephony legislation
this year is a "drop-dead issue for us", and praised the telecommunications
industry for their cooperation and good faith efforts to craft a balanced
compromise. While acknowledging that the costs associated with meeting the
requirements of the legislation remain a significant issue, Freeh indicated
that this question should be left to Congress to determine.
Many Subcommittee members, apparently swayed by the FBI's intense lobbying
campaign for the bill (which included many personal visits by the FBI
Director), praised the privacy protections in the legislation and committed
themselves to working through the remaining issues in order to pass the
bill this year. As Subcommittee Chairman Edward Markey (D-MA) stated in
his opening statement, the task of the Subcommittee is to "come up with a
policy that 1) protects the privacy interests of our citizens, 2) is
mindful of the limited financial resources of taxpayers or ratepayers, 3)
meets the legitimate needs of law enforcement, and 4) does not unduly
interfere with our telecommunications industry, which is racing to the
future with advances in communications technology".
COST -- WHO PAYS FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT CAPABILITY?
At issue are the provisions in the legislation that require
telecommunications carriers to deploy features and services which enable
law enforcement to conduct authorized electronic surveillance. The current
bill authorizes $500 million to cover the cost of upgrading existing
equipment during the first 4 years after the bill is enacted. Carriers
would be required to modify their equipment, at the governments expense, or
face fines of up to $10,000 per day for each day in violation. Although
the FBI maintains that $500 million is enough to cover all upgrade costs,
the industry has repeatedly stated that the costs will be five to ten times
higher. The industry is requesting that their liability under the bill be
linked to government reimbursement -- that the government should get what
it pays for and no more.
After four years, the bill stipulates that carriers must ensure that all
new features and services meet the wiretap requirements. The FBI has
argued that future compliance costs will be minimal, because these costs
will be addressed at the design stage and will be spread throughout the
industry. The industry maintains it is impossible to estimate compliance
costs for technologies which are not even on the drawing boards. If the
costs are substantial, as industry believes, forcing industry to incur
those costs may slow the deployment of advanced technology to the public.
Therefore, the industry believes that the government should be responsible
for all future compliance costs.
PUBLIC ACCOUNTIBILITY OF LAW ENFORCEMENT SURVEILLANCE COSTS IS ESSENTIAL
Many members of the Subcommittee stated that law enforcement's ability to
conduct electronic surveillance is an important public good which must not
be denied by advances in technology. However, Subcommittee members also
stressed that the privacy and security of the American public must be
balanced against the legitimate needs of law enforcement, and that the
current bill in no way expands the authority of law enforcement to conduct
electronic surveillance. Both FBI Director Freeh and Middelsex County
(Mass) District Attorney Reilly noted that electronic surveillance is an
essential and vital tool for law enforcement, and that public safety will
be placed in jeopardy if that ability is hindered.
As EFF's Berman stated, the current legislation incorporates significant
new privacy protections, and, in terms of privacy, is substantially
improved over previous FBI proposals. Among the privacy protections in the
current bill, Berman noted:
* The standard for law enforcement access to online
transactional records is raised to require a court order instead
of a mere subpoena
* Law enforcement may not require the capability to receive
information which reveals the location or movement of a subject
from dialed number information.
* Information revealed by pen register devices (equipment which
captures numbers dialed) cannot reveal any information beyond
the telephone number dialed. Law enforcement is prohibited from
receiving any additional information which may be captured (such
as transactions with a bank).
* The bill does not preclude a citizen's right to use encryption
* Privacy interests will be integral to the design process. Just
as law enforcement gains the ability to specify wiretap
capability,the bill requires that privacy interests are
incorporated when technical standards are developed.
* Privacy groups and other concerned citizens are granted the
right to intervene in the administrative standard setting
process if they feel that privacy and security are not being
* Law enforcement gains no additional authority to conduct
electronic surveillance. The warrant requirements specified
under current law remain unchanged
Berman argued that the important privacy protections in the bill turn on
the question of cost. Asking government to cover compliance costs is the
only way to ensure that industry dose not short-cut privacy by accepting
more invasive solutions; that the law enforcement surveillance expenditures
are accountable to the public, and; that industry will continue to offer
advanced technologies. "In our view," Berman said, "the public interest
can only be served if the government assumes the risk and pays the cost of
The Next Steps
The bill is expected to be considered at a markup of the House Judiciary
Committee on September 20. The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to
consider the bill shortly thereafter. The House Energy and Commerce
Committee may also hold a markup on the legislation, although no decision
has been made.
Access to Related Documents
Documents from Tuesday's hearing, including Jerry Berman's testimony, will
be placed in EFF's online archives. Berman's testimony is located at
gopher.eff.org, 1/EFF/OP, eff_091394_digtel_berman.testimony
BBS: +1 202 638 6119 (8-N-1), file area: Privacy--Digital Telephony,
For the text of the Digital Telephony legislation, related documents, and
more testimony (when available), look in the same areas.
<A HREF="http://www.eff.org/~mech/mech.html"> Stanton McCandlish
</A><HR><A HREF="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org"> email@example.com
</A><P><A HREF="http://www.eff.org/"> Electronic Frontier Fndtn.
</A><P><A HREF="http://www.eff.org/~mech/a.html"> Online Activist </A>
© 1994 Peter Langston