Jacking in from the "Hot on the Street" Port:
Washington, DC -- The Administration will unveil its controversial digital wiretap legislation tomorrow (Thurs.), according to government sources.
Sources declined to provide details of bill. "But the White House is steeling itself for all hell to break lose," said law enforcement source. Administration's bill has been drafted through efforts of recently created Working Group on Data Security, an interagency unit formed to deal with the encryption and digital telephony issues. Among the members of the group are the Office of Management and Budget, FBI, Justice Department, Commerce Department, National Security Agency, Treasury and State Departments.
Administration's bill is similar to one that FBI previously floated during Bush era. That bill atrophied on Capitol Hill, never finding a sponsor. The White House bill will include automatic exemptions for some areas of telecommunications, such as PBXs and mandate court orders when law enforcement agents want to intercept cordless phone conversations. A rule that currently doesn't apply to cordless, noncellular phones.
Still in question is how White House proposes to pay for bill, which Dispatch has learned will cost at least $1 billion to implement across all forms of communications, including telephones, cable and emerging technologies called Personal Communications Sevices.