Other campus: FBI costing students (U. Massachusetts)

By Massachusetts Daily Collegian

(U-WIRE) AMHERST, Mass. – It’s difficult enough for universities to get funding, but now the FBI is thinking about adding even more stress to the average college student. The FBI is in the process of deciding whether or not they should enforce a 1994 law, the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, which requires universities to pay in order to allow the FBI to wiretap the Internet. The government says doing this will help them catch terrorists and other criminals. If this law is allowed to take effect, universities will have to pay at least $7 billion collectively.

Even the lowest estimates of compliance costs would, on average, increase annual tuition at most American universities by some $450, at a time when rising education costs are already a sore point with parents and members of Congress, Mr. Terry W. Hartle said. He is a senior vice president of the Lawyers for the American Council on Education, the nation’s largest association of universities and colleges according to the New York Times. He also said on Friday that they are preparing to appeal the order before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Universities are threatening lawsuits and are holding protests, but it’s possible that neither will help. According to the article, this law requires telephone carriers to engineer their switching systems at their own cost so that federal agents can obtain easy surveillance access. Also, in order to implement this, the government would have to win court orders so universities are not yet raising civil liberties.

The New York Times also stated that Justice Department officials said in their written comments filed with the Federal Communications Commission that the new requirements were necessary to keep the 1994 law effective and enforceable.

Thankfully, the order does not require surveillance of networks that permit students and faculty to communicate with each other, so some government officials say they don’t view compliance as overly costly, according to the article.

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staff Editorial

Massachusetts Daily Collegian (U. Massachusetts)