Deregulation, security ideologies clash

Thursday, 22 January 2004, 1:38 PM EST

The Federal Communications Commission's efforts to reduce regulations of some Internet services have come under intense criticism from officials at law enforcement agencies who say that their ability to electronically monitor terrorists and other criminal suspects is threatened, according to government officials, industry lawyers and documents on file at the FCC.

In a series of unpublicized meetings and heated correspondence in recent weeks, officials from the Justice Department, FBI and Drug Enforcement Administration have repeatedly complained about the FCC's decision in 2002 to classify high-speed Internet cable services under a looser regulatory regime than the telephone system.

The Justice Department recently tried to block the FCC from appealing a decision by a federal appeals court two months ago that struck down major parts of its 2002 deregulatory order. Justice Department officials feared that the deregulatory order impedes the department's ability to enforce wiretaps.

By Stephen Labaton at the Houston Chronicle.

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