Advanced Communications Technologies Pose Wiretapping Challenges

IMTEC-92-68BR: Published: Jul 17, 1992. Publicly Released: Jul 17, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO evaluated the: (1) technological alternatives available to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to wiretap voice and data communications; (2) telecommunications network changes needed to accommodate the least detectable wiretaps; and (3) estimated cost of developing and implementing such changes.

GAO found that: (1) the technologies in use and the locations of the taps determine the wiretap alternatives available and the changes in the telecommunications network needed to accommodate the least detectable wiretaps; (2) FBI has not comprehensively analyzed the technological alternatives and changes needed for wiretapping current and emerging technologies; (3) FBI has identified neither the costs of the needed alternatives and modifications nor who will pay for them; (4) during development of the new technologies, telephone company security officers did not inform the companies' technical experts of FBI wiretapping needs; and (5) FBI-proposed legislation identifies some of its wiretapping needs, but did not fully address how the telephone company would comply with FBI requirements or who would pay for needed telecommunication system changes.

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