Saturday, October 22, 2005

This Unfunded Mandate Could Hit You

In response to the growing popularity of VOIP, the federal government is requiring hundreds of universities and libraries to overhaul their Internet computer networks by 2007 to make it easier for law enforcement authorities to monitor e-mail and other online communications to help catch terrorists and other criminals.

One university advocate called it "the mother of all unfunded mandates."

As reported in the New York Times, this FCC order extends the provisions of a 1994 wiretap law that requires telephone carriers to engineer their switching systems at their own cost so that federal agents can easily access them for surveillance purposes.

Universities are protesting that it will cost them at least $7 billion to comply. And that's just for the equipment -- that doesn't count the installation costs or the ongoing costs of hiring and training staff to oversee those systems 24 hours a day, as the law requires.

Even the lowest cost estimates suggest this law will increase annual tuitions at most American universities by some $450.

Students, prepare to write your legislators...or prepare to open your checkbooks!

1 comment:

Nicole H. said...

I think it is ridiculous that the government is forcing schools to overhaul their Internet computer networks to make it easier for law enforcement to monitor online communications to help catch terrorists and other criminals. Schools in California are already having trouble funding their own programs and keeping basic equipment upgraded. For the government to include this new requirement without financial assistance is not being responsible to understanding the needs of the schools and the students.

On a side note, does anyone feel like privacy and rights are rapidly eroding?
An article in the San Jose Mercury News (10-25-05) discussed the attempt by Vice President Dick Cheney to exempt employees of the CIA from a legislative measure endorsed earlier this month by 90 members of the Senate that would bar cruel and degrading treatment of any prisoners in U.S. custody. I thought we were all supposed to have equal rights? This exemption allows members of the CIA to have a level of power that is extremely dangerous.

Both of these articles allude to the fact that our government has become so consumed by terrorists, that the security of our rights are least important. These articles also tell us that we are all not created equal.