Big bucks for digital wiretapping, DOJ, Treasury

Budget of the United States Government Fiscal Year 2001

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Digital wiretapping received a big boost in funding in the president's 2001 budget, with $240 million in funding — up from $15 million in the 2000 budget — allocated to allow federal agencies to install court-authorized wiretaps on new digital communications systems.

The digital wiretap funds will flow from the federal government to telecommunications carriers and manufacturers required to retrofit their digital equipment so court-authorized wiretaps can be accommodated, according to budget documents released today. The budget documents described court authorized wiretaps as "a major investigative tool of federal law enforcement" stymied by the switch from analog to digital systems.

The budget also proposed significant funding increases for wireless systems used by federal law enforcement agencies, including $205 million in funding (up from $102 million in fiscal 2000) for Justice Department radio systems designed to support the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the U.S. Marshal's service.

The Treasury Department would receive $55 million in its fiscal 2001 budget to establish an Integrated Treasury Network for wireless communications systems used by the Customs Service, the Secret Service and the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agency. The president's 2001 budget stated that those systems would be financed by $200 million in proposed fees on commercial television broadcasters' use of the analog signal spectrum.

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