ALA and ACRL file comments before the FCC on CALEA

Contact: Bernadette Murphy

ALA Washington Office

For Immediate Release

November 21, 2005

ALA and ACRL file comments before the FCC on CALEA

WASHINGTON – The American Library Association (ALA) and the Association for College and Research Libraries (ACRL), along with the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), filed comments on November 14 before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) seeking exemption from Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) for libraries. ALA and ACRL also are part of a petition before the court arguing that the FCC does not have jurisdiction to extend CALEA to the Internet.

CALEA, passed in October 1994, requires telecommunications carriers to re-engineer their networks to enable compliance with law enforcements' legitimate wiretapping requests. When the Act was passed, Congress drew a distinction between telecommunications services (telephone, fax, etc.) and information services such as Internet services, which are excluded from the Act. A recent FCC rule extends CALEA wiretaps to broadband networks and Voice over IP services , as requested by law enforcement agencies. This change could force providers of broadband access - including some public and academic libraries and library networks - to re-engineer their networks at their own expense.

“Many academic libraries obtain our Internet access through campus networks or regional and national high-speed networks such as Internet2. We believe our libraries and the private nonprofit networks we use should be exempt, ” says ACRL President Camila Alire. “Additionally, the cost for colleges and universities to upgrade computer network switches and routers has been estimated at $7 billion, and there would be no funding for this mandate. Libraries and academic institutions aren't like commercial Internet providers who could raise rates to cover these kinds of costs.”

For more information about the lawsuit and a copy of the comments, visit

ALA is the oldest and largest library association in the world, with more than 64,000 members. Its mission is to promote the highest quality library and information services and public access to information.

ACRL is a division of the ALA representing more than 13,000 academic and research librarians and interested individuals. ACRL is the only individual membership organization in North America that develops programs, products and services to meet the unique needs of academic and research librarians. Its initiatives enable the higher education community to understand the role that academic libraries play in the teaching, learning and research environments.