NACUBO Pushing for Exemptions from New Internet Wiretap Rules

Published: October 30, 2005

WASHINGTON, In response to recent changes in Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules involving facilities-based broadband Internet access providers, the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO), in conjunction with the Higher Education Information Technology (HEIT) Alliance and other groups are working to get an exemption for higher education.

In a statement released by NACUBO, the associations argue that it is not in the public interest to require higher educational institutions to redesign their data networks for the possibility of a future Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) request. According to the association, requiring full compliance with the proposed new rules would impose an unreasonable financial burden on institutions, increasing the costs and impacting innovation, with no guarantee of increased security.

The FCC changes would require facilities-based Internet service providers, including colleges and universities, to facilitate lawful requests for surveillance on their data networks and Internet telephone systems through a combination of new equipment, trained personnel, policies, and procedures. The new equipment, personnel and procedures would need to be in place within 18 months of the effective date of the ruling (May 14, 2007). According to NACUBO, this would impose substantial new costs on the institutions involved.

Institutions will have 18 months to comply with the order, unless it is stayed by lawsuits or if an agreement is reached with the Justice Department for an exemption by the FCC. Another possibility is an extension of the timeline for compliance. Colleges and universities typically update their systems every five to six years and could install the necessary equipment as a matter of normal business. As an example of the costs involved, a large Midwestern university recently spent more than $18 million on switches and routers alone to perform a major upgrade to its network.

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