[JURIST] The US Federal Communications Commission [official website; JURIST news archive] on Wednesday voted to require [PDF news release] broadband and Internet phone companies to cover the costs of providing mandatory wiretap [JURIST news archive] access to law enforcement authorities. The order will likely result in a wiretapping tax on service providers to cover the costs of the updates. The FCC commissioners said wiretap access was needed for homeland security purposes, while they downplayed cost estimates by saying such a tax would encourage providers to keep costs down.
The FCC made wiretap access mandatory [CNET News report] in an order in September 2005, but debate continued as to who should cover the cost. The American Council on Education, which represents universities in the US, said costs could run up to $7 billion for network upgrades. A group has challenged the requirement [JURIST report] in federal court, with arguments scheduled for Friday. CNET News has more.