March 31, 1995

Contact - Marc Rotenberg 202/544-9240 (Washington)
Wiretap information - 
General information 
Privacy Hotline - 800/651-1489 ($10 charge)


SAN FRANCISCO -- The Electronic Privacy Information Center announced today
that it would launch a national campaign to oppose funding for a wiretap plan
adopted by Congress last year.  The Washington-based public interest
organization said that the government has failed to justify the $500,000,000
price tag.

The wiretap plan, also known as the Communications Assistance for Law
Enforcement Act of 1994, will require telephone firms to make it easy to
wiretap the nation's communication system.  The proposal faced strong
opposition from industry and civil liberties organizations last year.  But the
bill went forward after the government offered to pay companies $500,000,000
to make the proposed changes.

FBI Director Lou Freeh argued that the legislation was necessary to preserve
crime-fighting abilities of law enforcement. But critics charge that the plan
will be costly, unwieldy, and leave the nation's telephone system more
vulnerable to criminal misuse.

Last year EPIC brought suit against the FBI to obtain records relating to the
program.  "This whole effort has taken place behind a shroud of secrecy. The
information that has been disclosed indicates that this plan is deeply flawed"
said Marc Rotenberg, director of EPIC. "Not a dollar should be spent on this

The wiretap plan has also been linked to the controversial Clipper Chip
proposal, announced by the National Security Agency in 1993. Clipper also
faced strong opposition from industry and civil liberties groups.  The White
House reportedly backed off Clipper after a petition signed by 47,000 Internet
users was delivered to the President last year.

EPIC announced that it will provide an Internet address -- --
to anyone on the Internet who need information about the campaign. "We want
net users to express their concerns to Congress.  And we expect that Congress
will take a very careful look at this program before spending $500,000,000,"
said Mr. Rotenberg.

EPIC has also established a "Privacy Hotline" through Western Union.  The 800
number service will allow callers to send Western Union Mailgrams(r) to
members of Congress expressing opposition to the wiretap plan.  The cost for
callers to send the letters is $10. Callers will be billed either to a home
telephone number or to a credit card.

EPIC announced the campaign at the fifth annual Computers, Freedom & Privacy
conference held this week in San Francisco.  The conference brings together
policy makers, business leaders, civil liberties advocates, and on-line users
to explore rights and responsibilities in the information age.

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- Contact your representatives in Congress. Urge them to oppose 
funding for the FBI's "Telephone Carrier Compliance" program.

- Call 800/651-1489 to arrange for the delivery of Western Union 
Milgrams(r) to your representative and to the Chairman and Ranking 
Minority on the House Subcommittee on Appropriations ($10 charge)

- Send email to for more info

Return to the main wiretap campaign page