1997 Congressional Hearings
Intelligence and Security

Implementation of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA)

Statement of
H. Michael Warren, Chief, Information Resources Division,
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Subcommittee on Crime
Committee on the Judiciary
United States House of Representatives

Washington, D. C.
October 23, 1997

Thank you Mr. Chairman. It is a pleasure to appear before this subcommittee today to discuss the status of the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA). I am pleased to report that progress has been made and continues to be made since CALEA's passage three years ago. That progress brings law enforcement much closer today to being able to protect the personal safety of our citizens. At the same time, important implementation issues remain at the forefront of our discussions. I want to assure the Subcommittee that law enforcement remains committed to working with industry to implement CALEA in a timely, cost effective manner.

Initially, we should remind ourselves of the fundamentals concerning CALEA. Both law enforcement and industry recognized that advanced telecommunications technologies had begun to systematically erode and, at times, prevent law enforcement from carrying out electronic surveillance orders. This resulted in the loss of critically important evidence. Such advanced technology was having the effect of repealing, de facto, the legal authority established by Congress in Title III and other electronic surveillance statutes. Director Freeh and the entire law enforcement community advised the Congress that this circumstance put at great risk effective law enforcement, the public safety, and the national security. Congress agreed, and CALEA was signed into law on October 24, 1994.

The goal of CALEA was to have the industry move promptly to restore lost electronic surveillance capabilities, and to prevent new impediments from occurring. Congress established a compliance date of October 25, 1998, to convey the importance of getting this problem resolved quickly, yet allowing industry a transition period to develop and deploy compliant solutions. To ensure the efficient and industry-wide implementation, Congress encouraged the development and use of standards. While Congress expressed a preference for using the industry's standards process, compliance by October 25, 1998, was required with or without standards.

Congress also recognized that there had to be equity in sharing the costs for CALEA. Therefore, government would be responsible for modifications to equipment, facilities, and services deployed before January 1, 1995, for which Congress authorized $500 million. The Congress also decided in CALEA that the government should not pay carriers for modifications indefinitely. After January 1, 1995, the costs shift to industry.

The implementation of CALEA is, in many respects, a pioneering effort, involving the close cooperation of federal, state and local law enforcement, the telecommunications industry and privacy groups. At a fundamental level, CALEA requires the government, as the end-user customer, to provide its requirements, although it cannot require from industry a specific design or technological approach. Despite the challenges of such a unique undertaking, CALEA's implementation has made important strides.

A working committee has been formed that includes technical representatives from industry and law enforcement. Its purpose is to resolve the relatively few outstanding issues generated by the proposed standard. We have met several times and are optimistic that its efforts will lead to the timely implementation of the law.

Furthermore, in recent weeks, we have intensified our discussions with some major manufacturers and carriers, which have yielded promising results. Several major manufacturers have recently advised the government that they are currently developing CALEA-compliant solutions, which they anticipate will be available by the October 1998 compliance date or shortly thereafter. The government has been informed that the solutions will meet the CALEA law enforcement requirements.

Additionally, we are only a few months away from another important CALEA milestone, the final publication of law enforcement's estimate of future electronic surveillance capacity. This milestone results from an unprecedented collection of intercept data, thoughtful governmental analysis, and extensive consultation with the carrier community. Comments received from industry on the Initial and Second Notices of Capacity were extremely useful in enabling law enforcement to express its future interception needs. In response to industry concerns, the Final Notice will make the application of these capacity numbers as clear as reasonably possible. Given this, I believe these capacity numbers will not negatively impact upon their networks, regardless of whether their approach to a CALEA technical solution is switch or network-based. The Final Notice of Capacity is expected to be published in January of 1998, following compliance with certain regulatory and administrative requirements.

Now let me update you briefly on the CALEA Implementation Plan, submitted on March 3, 1997. As described in the Implementation Plan, the FBI had intended to enter into cooperative agreements with telecommunications carriers, based upon reimbursement of eligible "costs." However, as negotiations progressed, it became apparent that the manufacturers' concern over competitive issues and proprietary information made it difficult for both sides to achieve their objectives. Therefore, following consultation with the industry, a market-based price approach may be required for reimbursement. The government stands ready to begin the reimbursement process as soon as CALEA-compliant solutions are made available and once a reasonable market price is determined.

In summary, law enforcement and industry have a long history of cooperation with respect to the conduct of lawfully authorized electronic surveillance. At its core, I believe this relationship remains a solid one, and one that allows law enforcement to bring thousands of dangerous criminals to justice each year. At the same time, there is no denying the fact that the dynamic changes that have occurred in telecommunications technology raise unique and complex concerns.

However, I believe CALEA has held up remarkably well in providing all parties with a framework and a process for moving forward. Guided by this framework, we are working diligently to bring CALEA to fruition, and to meet its deadlines. We can not, however, do it alone. Continued cooperation is needed from all those who play a role in the implementation of this important legislation. An ongoing dialogue with industry remains the cornerstone of our implementation efforts, and we look forward to continuing to work with all involved to address their concerns.

Thank you Mr. Chairman, and members of this subcommittee for providing me the opportunity to discuss CALEA on behalf of all of law enforcement. I look forward to your continued interest in the implementation of CALEA and I am ready to answer your questions.