Congress Approves Expanded Wiretapping Authority</B>

October 09, 1998

Without debate or notice, U.S. lawmakers yesterday approved a proposal long sought by the FBI that would dramatically expand wiretapping authority — an idea Congress openly rejected many years ago. The provision makes it easier for law enforcement agencies to tap any telephone used by or near a person being targeted by the FBI, instead of getting authorization to tap specific phones.

It was added to the Intelligence Authorization Conference report during a closed door meeting and filed with the House and Senate on Monday. Neither the House nor the Senate had included the provision, known as roving wiretap authority, in their versions of the intelligence bill. Lawmakers drafting the conference report decided to include it.


  • Steve Kohn, a First Amendment lawyer and Chairperson of the National Whistleblowers Center. He is also author of American Political Prisoners, which covers abuse of sedition laws in the U.S. since 1917.

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