Appeals Court Partly Rejects FCC Wiretap Ruling, Retains Cell Phone Tracking Requirement
The DC Federal Court of Appeals on August 15 overturned in part an FCC ruling on wiretap standards under the 1994 CALEA statute. The court rejected as "an entirely unsatisfactory response" to CALEA's privacy provisions the FCC's decision ordering carriers to provide added call dialing and signaling information sought by the FBI. But the court upheld the FCC requirement for the location of wireless phones. The court, while rejecting privacy objections to the FCC's treatment of surveillance of packet data, based its decision on the view that the government needs a full, probable cause-based Title III wiretap order to obtain packets from which content has not been stripped, thus casting doubt on the legality of the FBI's Carnivore sniffing program when used under the weaker pen register or trap and trace standard.