TUCoPS :: Cyber Law :: eff-foia.txt

US GSA opposed FBI wiretap plan!

"GSA Memos Reveal that FBI Wiretap Plan was 
Opposed by Government's Top Telecomm Purchaser"

 	The New York Times reported today on a document obtained 
by CPSR through the Freedom of Information Act.  ("FBI's 
Proposal on Wiretaps Draws Criticism from G.S.A.," New York 
Times, January 15, 1993, p. A12)

	The document, an internal memo prepared by the General 
Services Administration, describes many problems with the 
FBI's wiretap plan and also shows that the GSA strongly 
opposed the sweeping proposal.  The GSA is the largest 
purchaser of telecommunications equipment in the federal 

	The FBI wiretap proposal, first announced in March of 
1992, would have required telephone manufacturers to design 
all communications equipment to facilitate wire surveillance. 
The proposal was defeated last year. The FBI has said that it 
plans to reintroduce a similar proposal this year.

	The documents were released to Computer Professionals 
for Social Responsibility, a public interest organization, 
after CPSR submitted Freedom of Information Act requests 
about the FBI's wiretap plan to several federal agencies last 

	The documents obtained by CPSR reveal that the GSA, 
which is responsible for equipment procurement for the 
Federal government, strongly opposed two different versions 
of the wiretap plan developed by the FBI.  According to the 
GSA, the FBI proposal would complicate interoperability, 
increase cost, and diminish privacy and network security.  
The GSA also stated that the proposal could "adversely 
_affect national security._"

	In the second memo, the GSA concluded that it would be a 
mistake to give the Attorney General sole authority to waive 
provisions of the bill.

	The GSA's objections to the proposal were overruled by 
the Office of Management and Budget, a branch of the White 
House which oversees administrative agencies for the 
President.  However, none of GSA's objections were disclosed 
to the public or made available to policy makers in 

	Secrecy surrounds this proposal.  Critical sections of a 
report on the FBI wiretap plan prepared by the General 
Accounting Office were earlier withhold after the FBI 
designated these sections "National Security Information." 
These sections included analysis by GAO on alternatives to 
the FBI's wiretap plan.  CPSR is also pursuing a FOIA lawsuit 
to obtain the FBI's internal documents concerning the wiretap 

	The GSA memos, the GAO report and others that CPSR is 
now seeking indicate that there are many important documents 
within the government which have still not been disclosed to 
the public.  

Marc Rotenberg
CPSR Washington office

Note: Underscores indicate underlining in the original text. 
Dashes that go across pages indicate page breaks.

[Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility is a non-
profit, public interest membership organization. For 
membership information about CPSR, contact 
cpsr@csli.stanford.edu or call 415/322-3778.  For information 
on CPSR's FOIA work, contact David Sobel at 202/544-9240 



              Control No. X92050405
               Due Date:     5/5/92

Brenda Robinson (S)

After KMR consultations, we still _"cannnot support"_ Draft 
Bill. No. 118 as substantially revised by Justice after its 
purported full consideration of other agencies' "substantive 

Aside from the third paragraph of our 3/13/92 attachment 
response for the original draft bill, which was adopted as 
GSA's position (copy attached), Justice has failed to fully 
address other major GSA concerns (i.e., technological changes 
and associated costs).

Further, by merely eliminating the FCC and any discussion of 
cost issues in the revision, we can not agree as contended by 
Justice that it now " ... takes care of kinds of problems 
raised by FCC and others ...."

Finally, the revision gives Justice sole unilateral exclusive 
authority to enforce and except or waive the provisions of 
any resultant Iaw in Federal District Courts. Our other 
concerns are also shown in the current attachment for the 
revised draft bill.

Once again OMB has not allowed sufficient time for a more 
through review, a comprehensive internal staffing, or a 
formal response.


                       Wm. R. Loy  KMR     5/5/92

Info: K(Peay),KD,KA,KB,KE,KG,KV,KM,KMP,KMR,R/F,LP-Rm.4002

(O/F) -   9C1h (2) (a) - File (#4A)


                       DIGITAL TELEPHONY

The proposed legislation could have a widespread impact on 
the government's ability to acquire _new_ telecommunications 
equipment and provide electronic communications services.

_Existing_ Federal government telecommunications resources 
will be affected by the proposed new technology techniques 
and equipment. An incompatibility and interoperability of 
existing Federal government telecommunications system, and 
resources would result due to the new technological changes 

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been removed 
from the legislation, but the Justice implementation may 
require modifications to the "Communications Act of 1934," 
and other FCC policies and regulations to remove 
inconsistencies. This could also cause an unknown effect on 
the wire and electronic communications systems operations, 
services, equipment, and regulations within the Federal 
government. Further, to change a major portion of the United 
States telecommunications infrastructure (the public switched 
network within eighteen months and others within three years) 
seems very optimistic, no matter how trivial or minimal the 
proposed modifications are to implement.

In the proposed legislation the Attorney General has sole 
_unilateral exclusive_ authority to enforce, grant exceptions 
or waive the provisions of any resultant law and enforce it 
in Federal District Courts. The Attorney General would, as 
appropriate, only "consult" with the FCC, Department of 
Commerce, or Small Business Administration. The Attorney 
General has exclusive authority in Section 2 of the 
legislation; it appears the Attorney General has taken over 
several FCC functions and placed the FCC in a mere consulting 

The proposed legislation would apply to all forms of wire and 
electronic communications to include computer data bases, 
facsimile, imagery etc., as well as voice transmissions.

The proposed legislation would assist eavesdropping by law 
enforcement, but it would also apply to users who acquire the 
technology capability and make it easier for criminals, 
terrorists, foreign intelligence (spies) and computer hackers 
to electronically penetrate the public network and pry into 
areas previously not open to snooping. This situation of 
easier access due to new technology changes could therefore 
affect _national security_.



The proposed legislation does not address standards and 
specifications for telecommunications equipment nor security 
considerations. These issues must be addressed as they effect 
both the government and private industry. There are also 
civil liberty implications and the public's constitutional 
rights to privacy which are not mentioned.

it must be noted that equipment already exists that can be 
used to wiretap the digital communications lines and support 
court- authorized wiretaps, criminal investigations and 
probes of voice communications. The total number of 
interception applications authorized within the United States 
(Federal and State) has been averaging under nine hundred per 
year. There is concern that the proposed changes are not cost 
effective and worth the effort to revamp all the existing and 
new telecommunications systems.

The proposed bill would have to have the FCC or another 
agency approve or reject new telephone equipment mainly on 
the basis of whether the FBI has the capability to wiretap 
it. The federal- approval process is normally lengthy and the 
United States may not be able to keep pace with foreign 
industries to develop new technology and install secure 
communications. As a matter of interest, the proposed 
restrictive new technology could impede the United States' 
ability to compete in digital telephony and participate in 
the international trade arena.

Finally, there will be unknown associated costs to implement 
the proposed new technological procedures and equipment. 
These costs would be borne by the Federal government, 
consumers, and all other communications ratepayers to finance 
the effort. Both the Federal government and private industry 
communications regular phone service, data transmissions, 
satellite and microwave transmissions, and encrypted 
communications could be effected at increased costs.


  Documents disclosed to Computer Professionals for Social     
Responsibility (CPSR), under the Freedom of Information Act
December 1992

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