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Business and Policy Areas
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Higher Ed Community Files Brief on Monitoring of Internet Communications

January 28, 2006

A group of higher education associations, including EDUCAUSE, the American Council on Education, and NACUBO, filed a brief with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), appealing a ruling that would require colleges and universities to upgrade their electronic communications systems, with a potential price tag of billions of dollars for campuses nationwide.

The brief appeals the FCC’s application of the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) to cover facilities-based broadband Internet service providers, including colleges and universities. CALEA requires telephone companies to ensure that their networks do not hamper the ability of law enforcement agencies to effectuate wiretaps. Last August, the FCC adopted a ruling extending the scope of CALEA to include all "facilities-based" Internet service providers.

While the FCC's order focused on commercial entities, it specified that colleges and universities that operate private broadband networks would be subject to the new rules, as long as they "support" a connection to the Internet. It is generally believed that CALEA compliance would be extremely costly for campuses and educational and research networks.

The higher education community has worked to overturn the original ruling since April of 2004, when a coalition of associations filed comments to the FCC. Since then, additional comments have been filed and meetings have been held with Congress, the FCC and the Department of Justice to work out a solution that would support law enforcement without placing an undue burden on the networks of colleges and universities throughout the country.

Oral argument is scheduled for May 5 in the 10th District Court of Appeals in Washington, DC, with a decision expected to be issued by FCC later in 2006.

Resource link: EDUCAUSE

NACUBO contact: Mary M. Bachinger