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Industry groups representing most of nation’s telephone companies and several privacy rights groups have petitioned the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the D.C. and Ninth Circuits to overturn the Federal Communications Commission rules on creating new standards for digital wiretaps. The groups claim that the FCC has unlawfully extended the wiretap capabilities of law enforcement beyond what is allowed under a controversial 1994 federal law.

The U.S. Telecom Association (USTA) filed suit on Nov. 9 (U.S. Telecom Assn. v. FCC, D.C. Cir., No. 99-1422) charging that “the FCC broadly expanded the electronic surveillance capabilities that telecommunications carriers must provide,” while the legislation only required that law enforcement maintain their current capabilities. The association filed for an expedited briefing schedule on Nov. 12.

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