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Association of Research Libraries (ARL®)

  Influencing Public Policies Contact:
Prue Adler
Privacy, Security & Civil Liberties

Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA)

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ARL, with others in the public and private sectors, challenged a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) final Order on the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA). The Center for Democracy and Technology with 10 other parties including ARL, filed a petition with the District of Columbia Court of Appeals for review of the FCC CALEA Order. In addition, ARL, ALA, and ACRL pursued a regulatory approach.

In August 2005, the FCC decided that all facilities-based broadband Internet access providers would be subject to CALEA. CALEA, passed by Congress in 1994, addresses the concerns of the law enforcement community regarding the use of wiretaps in digital telephone networks and the law specifically provided law enforcement with additional powers to enhance government surveillance capabilities. Congress differentiated though between traditional telephone services and the Internet and did not make CALEA applicable to the Internet or information services including e-mail, instant messaging, and other Internet–based information services. Extending CALEA to providers of facilities based broadband and VoIP will require institutions including research libraries to make changes to their systems to accommodate law enforcement.