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Federal government sues Sprint for wiretap expenses

The US government on Monday filed a lawsuit [complaint] against Sprint Communications, Inc., [corporate website] alleging the company overcharged them for telephone wiretapping services. The complaint, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California [official website], asserted that Sprint knowingly submitted false "reimbursement of expenses" claims from January 1, 2007 to July 31, 2010, amounting to $21 million in overcharged expenses. The complaint alleged that by including these expenses, Sprint violated a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) [official website] order requiring broadband and Internet phone companies to cover the costs of providing mandatory wiretap access to law enforcement authorities as required by the Communications Assistance in Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) [text]. The complaint stated that Sprint's invoices did not specifically identify its invoiced expenses, and that "federal law enforcement agencies were unable to detect that Sprint was requesting reimbursement of these unallowable costs." A spokesperson for Sprint indicated [Reuters report] Monday that the company was in full compliance with the law that they would defend the matter in court.

A similar lawsuit was filed against Sprint in 2009, but the case was dismissed [opinion, PDF; Law 360 report] last November by a federal district court citing lack of subject matter jurisdiction and issues of standing. In June 2006 the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld CALEA [JURIST report], which requires telecommunications companies to allow law enforcement officials access to their networks for wiretapping and other purposes. In May of that year, the FCC voted to require [JURIST report] broadband and Internet phone companies to cover the costs of providing wiretap services, settling the year-long dispute. The FCC made wiretap access mandatory in an order in September 2005. A coalition of privacy and technology groups challenged the requirement [JURIST report] later that year, citing privacy concerns.

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