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recording to carefully evaluate the accuracy of any preliminary indications of electronic toll fraud. Only when a reasonable suspicion of such fraud has been firmly established, the possibility of plant trouble ruled out, and all other investigative measures exhausted, do the telephone companies engage in limited recording.
Nor does the recording begin until the caller's blue box emits a tone to seize the line, the one you first heard. The recording is brief and usually includes the ensuing dialing of the multifrequency tones of the number being illicitly called after the line was seized, the ensuing ringing cycle of the call, and the opening salutations of the parties after the call is answered. Usually only 60 seconds or less of conversation is necessarily recorded. The equipment generally is adjusted to cut off automatically at the end of this recording cycle.
In conclusion, we have shown that at best, detection of electronic toll fraud is difficult. We can only conjecture at the full scale of the substantial revenue losses sustained by the telephone industry and its customers. As in many criminal areas where detection is difficult, the instances of electronic toll fraud unearthed by the telephone companies represent merely that portion of the iceberg visible to the eye. The actual losses currently being sustained may be 10 or 20 times as great as our provable losses.
In none of the cases prosecuted, State or Federal, has any judge ever subscribed to the thesis that the telephone companies do not have the statutory obligation to collect, through limited recording, the evidence necessary to identify those placing calls in an illegal manner. To hold otherwise would in effect herald to the racketeer, the corrupt businessman, and all others that they have carte blanche to operate with relative impunity.
The virtually unchecked use of electronic toll fraud devices which would ensue if the threat of detection and prosecution is removed would impose an overwhelming financial burden on the telephone industry and its honest customers, who would be required to underwrite the entire cost of these depredations, including the total loss of revenue and the substantial expense of the circuits, facilities, and equipment tied up by such illegal use. These losses would rapidly reach staggering proportions, soaring into the tens and hundreds of millions of dollars and jeopardizing our very ability to provide telephone service to this Nation.
I shall be most pleased to answer any of the subcommittee's questions.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Caming follows:]
STATEMENT OF H. W. WILLIAM CAMING, ATTORNEY, AMERICAN TELEPHONE &
I am H. W. William Caming, Attorney in the General Departments of American Telephone and Telegraph Company. My areas of primary responsibility have since 1965 included, from a legal standpoint, oversight over matters pertaining to industrial security and privacy as they affect the Bell System.
I wish to thank the Subcommittee for the opportunity to present the views of the Bell System on privacy of communications and delineate our experiences with electronic surveillance, principally in the area of wiretapping.
At the outset, I wish to stress the singular importance the Bell System has always placed upon preserving the privacy of telephone communications. Such privacy is a basic concept in our business. We believe that our customers have an inherent right to feel that they can use the telephone with the same degree
of privacy they enjoy when talking face to face. Any undermining of this confidence would seriously impair the usefulness and value of telephone communications.
Over the years, the Bell System has repeatedly urged that full protection be accorded to its customers' privacy, and we have consistently endorsed legislation that would make wiretapping as such illegal. In 1966 and again in 1967, we testified to this effect before the Senate Subcommittee on Administrative Practice and Procedure during its consideration of the Federal Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Bill. We said we strongly opposed any invasion of the privacy of communications by wiretapping and accordingly welcomed Federal and State legislation which would strengthen such privacy. This is still, of course, our position.
We believe that the Federal Omnibus Crime Control Act has contributed significantly to protecting privacy by, among others, clarifying existing law and proscribing under pain of heavy criminal penalty any unauthorized interception "or" disclosure or use of a wire communication.
During our Congressional testimony, we said too that we recognized that national security and organized racketeering are matters of grave concern to the government and to all of us as good citizens. The extent to which privacy of communications should yield and where the line between privacy and police powers should be drawn in the public interest are matters of national public policy, to be determined by the Congress upon a proper balancing of the individual and societal considerations.
For more than three decades, it has been Bell System policy to refuse to accept in the Yellow Pages of its telephone directories advertisements by private detective agencies and others, stating or implying that the services being offered include the use of wiretapping. In December 1966, during Congressional consideration of the Federal Omnibus Crime Control Act's Title III proscriptions against unauthorized interceptions, this longstanding policy was expanded to prohibit too the acceptance of eavesdropping copy. This standard, adopted by all Bell System Companies, and interpreted from the outset to make equally unacceptable so-called debugging advertising (i.e., advertising stating or implying electronic devices or services will be provided for the detection and removal of wiretaps and eavesdropping "bugs"), on the theory that those who can debug also possess the capability to bug and wiretap.
Our Companies continually review their Yellow Pages in an endeavor to ensure all unacceptable copy is removed, either by satisfactory rewording or deletion of the offending copy. New advertising is subject to similar scrutiny. The scope of this undertaking becomes apparent from the fact that there are approximately 2,400 Yellow Pages telephone directories, containing some 18,000,000 advertisements and listings.
The removal of unacceptable copy is a never-ending task of large proportions, since many such advertisements are revised, and new ones appear, in each issue. We believe, however, that we have done a creditable job in this area, and we intend to continue such rigid policing as contributive to maximizing privacy of communications.
It may help place matters in perspective if we provide a brief insight into the magnitude of telephone calling that occurs in this country in a single year. During the calendar year 1973, for example, there were approximately 138 million telephones (including extensions) in use in the United States, from which some 188 billion calls were completed.
From the time our business began some 90 years ago, the American public has understood that the telephone service they were receiving was being personally furnished by switchboard operators, telephone installers and central office repairmen who, in the performance of their duties of completing calls, installing phones and maintaining equipment, must of necessity have access to customers' lines to carry out their normal job functions. We have always recog nized this and have worked hard and effectively to ensure that unwarranted intrusions on customers' telephone conversations do not occur. We are confident that we have done and are doing an excellent job in preserving privacy in telephone communication.
The advance of telephone technology has in itself produced an increasing measure of protection for telephone users. Today, the vast majority of calls are dialed by the customer, without the presence of an operator on the connection. This has greatly minimized the opportunities for intrusions on privacy. In
addition, more than 88 percent of our customers now have one-party telephone service, and the proportion of such individual lines is growing steadily. Direct inward dialing to PBX extensions, automatic testing equipment, and the extension of direct distance dialing to person-to-person, collect and credit card calls and to long distance calls from coin box telephones further contributes to telephone privacy.
Beyond this, all Bell System Companies conduct a vigorous program to ensure every reasonable precaution is taken to preserve privacy of communications through physical protection of telephone plant and thorough instruction of employees.
Our employees are selected, trained, and supervised with care. They are regularly reminded that, as a basic condition of employment, they must strictly adhere to Company rules and applicable laws against unauthorized interception or disclosure of customers' conversations. All employees are required to read a booklet describing what is expected of them in the area of secrecy of communications. Violations can lead, and indeed have led, to discharge.
In regard to our operating plant, all of our premises housing central offices, equipment and wiring and the plant records of our facilities, including those serving each customer, are at all times kept locked or supervised by responsible management personnel, to deny unauthorized persons access thereto or specific knowledge thereof. We have some 90,000 people whose daily work assignments are in the outside plant. They are constantly alert for unauthorized connections or indications that telephone terminals or equipment have been tampered with. Telephone cables are protected against intrusion. They are fully sealed and generally filled with gas; any break in the cable sheath reduces the gas pressure and activates an alarm.
With these measures and many others, we maintain security at a high level. We are, of course, concerned that as a result of technological developments, clandestine electronic monitoring of telephone lines by outsiders can be done today in a much more sophisticated manner than has been heretofore possible. Devices, for example, now can pick up conversations without being physically connected to telephone lines. These devices must, however, generally be in close proximity to a telephone line, and our personnel in their day-to-day work assignments are alert for signs of this type of wiretapping too. Every indication of irregularity is promptly and thoroughly investigated.
Our concern for the privacy of our customers is reflected too in the care with which we investigate any suspicious circumstances and all customer complaints that their lines are being wiretapped. Our Companies follow generally similar operating procedures when an employee discovers a wiretap or eavesdropping device on a telephone line. Each Company has established ground rules for the small number of these situations that occur, which take into consideration any local statutory requirements. Most frequently, when our people find improper wiring at a terminal, it is the result either of a record error or failure on the part of our personnel to remove the wires associated with a disconnected telephone. Each of these cases is, however, carefully checked. In those few instances where there is evidence of wiretapping, the employee discovering it is required to inform his supervisor immediately, and a thorough investigation is undertaken in every such case by competent security and plant forces.
In a small number of cases, a customer suspects a wiretap and asks for our assistance. Usually, these requests arise because the customer hears what are to him suspicious noises on his line. Hearing fragments of another conversation due to a defective cable, or tapping noises due to loose connections, or other plant troubles are on occasion mistaken for wiretapping. Each Company has established procedures for handling such requests. Generally, the first step is to have our craftsmen test the customer's line from the central office. In most instances, these tests will disclose a plant trouble condition. In each such case, the trouble is promptly corrected and the customer informed there was no wiretap.
In cases where no trouble is detected through testing the customer's line, a thorough physical inspection for evidence of a wiretap is made by trained personnel at the customer's premises and at all other locations where his circuitry might be exposed to a wiretap. If no evidence of a wiretap is found, the customer is so informed. Where evidence of a wiretap is found, the practice generally is to report to law enforcement authorities any device found in the course of the Company inspection, for the purposes of determining whether the
device was lawful and of affording law enforcement an opportunity to investigate if the tap was unlawful. The existence of the device is also reported to the customer requesting the check, generally irrespective of whether it was lawful or unlawful. The customer is told that "a device" has been found on his line, without our characterizing it as lawful or unlawful; should the customer have any questions, he is referred without further comment to law enforcement.
New Jersey Bell however, as a matter of policy, informs a customer requesting a wiretap check that only the presence of an unauthorized device will be disclosed. Minnesota by statute similarly limits disclosure to unlawful devices, Should the customer inquire about the presence of a lawful device, he will usually be assured that applicable Federal and State laws require any judge authorizing or approving a court-ordered interception to notify the affected customer within 90 days after interception ceases (or at a later date, if disclosure is postponed upon a good cause showing by law enforcement).
All Bell System Companies report the existence of an unlawful device to the customer requesting the check, as well as to law enforcement, and the latter is provided an opportunity to investigate for a reasonable period (generally 24-48 hours) prior to removal of the wiretap.
We might point out that unless the wiretap effort is amateurish, a person whose line is being tapped will not hear anything unusual, because of the sophisticated devices employed. As we previously said, most of the complaints originate because the customer hears an odd noise, static, clicking, or other unusual manifestations. As far as our experience discloses, these usually turn out to be difficulties in transmission or other plant irregularities. From 1967 onward, for example, the total number of wiretap and eavesdrop devices of all types (including both lawful and unlawful) found by telephone employees on Bell System lines has averaged less than 21 per month-an average of less than one a month for each of the twenty-four operating companies of the Bell System. In our opinion, the criminal sanctions imposed by Title III (for the unauthorized interception or disclosure or use of wire or oral communications, or the manufacture, distribution, possession, or advertising of intercepting devices), coupled with vigorous law enforcement and attendant publicity, appear to have contributed significantly to safeguarding telephone privacy.
In the area of court-ordered wiretapping, it is the policy of the Bell System to cooperate with duly authorized law enforcement authorities in their execution of lawful interceptions by providing limited assistance as necessary for law enforcement to effectuate the particular wiretap. We wish to stress that the Bell System does not do the wiretapping. The assistance furnished generally takes the form of providing line access information, upon the presentation of a court order valid on its face, as to the cable and pair designations and multiple appearances of the terminals of the specific telephone lines approved for interception in the court order.
The term "cable and pair" denotes the pair of wires serving the telephone line in question, and the cable (carried on poles, or in conduit, or buried in the earth) in which the pair reposes. A "terminal" is the distribution point to which a number of individual pairs of wires from the cable are connected, to provide service in that immediate area. A terminal may in a residential area be on aerial cable suspended from telephone poles or on a low, above-ground pedestal, or be found in terminal boxes or connecting strips in the basement, hall, or room of an office building or apartment house. The pair of wires of each telephone serviced from a particular terminal are interconnected at that terminal with a specific pair of wires from the cable, so that a continuous path of communication is established between the customer's premises and the telephone company's central office. The terminals vary in size, depending upon the needs of the particular location. To provide optimum flexibility in usage of telephone equipment, the same pair of wires may appear in parallel in a number of terminals, so that the pair can be used to service a nearby location if its use is not required at a particular point. Thus, the term "multiple appearance" denotes the locations where the same pair of wires appears in more than one terminal on the electrical path between the central office and the customer's premises.
In the instance of law enforcement authorities of the Federal government (and of those States enacting specific enabling legislation in conformity with the amendments to § 2518 (4) of Title III of the Federal Omnibus Crime Control Act effective February 1, 1971), the court order may "direct" the telephone company to provide limited assistance in the form of the "information, facilities,.
and technical assistance" necessary to accomplish the wiretap unobtrusively and with a minimum disruption of service. Upon the receipt of such a directive in a court order valid on its face, our cooperation will usually take the form of furnishing a private line channel from terminal to terminal (i.e., a channel from a terminal which also services the telephone line under investigation to a terminal servicing the listening post location designated by law enforcement). Additionally, the above described line access information will be furnished for the specific telephone lines judicially approved for interception.
On occasion, assistance in the form of private line channels is furnished to Federal authorities in national security cases. This assistance is only rendered upon specific written request of the Attorney General of the United States or of the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (upon the specific written authorization of the Attorney General to make such request) to the local telephone company for such facilities, as a necessary investigative technique under the Presidential power to protect the national security against actual or potential attack or other hostile acts of a foreign power, to obtain foreign intelligence information deemed essential to the security of the United States, or to protect national security information against foreign intelligence activities. For reasons of security, we are not informed in such cases of the specific nature of the national security matter under investigation.
In cooperating in court-ordered and national security cases, we endeavor to provide the very minimum assistance necessary to effectuate the particular wiretap. Under no circumstances, do we do the wiretapping itself; that is the exclusive province of the appropriate law enforcement officers. Nor do we furnish end equipment to be used in connection with a wiretap, such as tape recorders or pen registers. Nor do we design or build wiretap or eavesdrop devices for law enforcement authorities. Furthermore, our telephone companies do not train law enforcement personnel in the general methods of wiretapping and eavesdropping, nor do we provide telephone company employee identification cards, uniforms or tools, or telephone company trucks.
In conclusion, I wish to assure you that the Bell System continues to be wholly dedicated to the proposition that the public is entitled to telephone communications free from unlawful interception or divulgence. We are vitally interested in the protection of the privacy of communications and always welcome measures and techniques that will strengthen and preserve it.
The foregoing reflects our experience in the areas of wiretapping and electronic surveillance since the passage of Title III of the Federal Omnibus Crime Control Act in 1968 and our continuing concern for maximizing the privacy of communications.
I shall be pleased to endeavor to answer any questions that the Subcommittee may have.
Mr. KASTENMEIER. Thank you, Mr. Caming.
In connection with the practices of the phone company in connection with fraudulent toll calls, blue box calls, on February 2 the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that between 1965 and 1970, over 30 million telephone calls in six cities were randomly recorded, and over 1.5 million of these were retained for analysis, or perhaps that is a point you substantively made.
Was this basically an accurate statement of telephone company practices during this period?
Mr. CAMING. Yes, but I would like to clarify it for the subcommittee if I may.
First, I would like to say that the number of calls recorded for analysis were on the order of 1.5 to 1.8 million and not 30-plus million. The 30-plus million, as I will indicate, were merely scan tested without any human ear being possibly able to hear it, and erased automatically by equipment. This is purely a scanning process.
Now, why was this introduced? Was it necessary, and did it in any sense imperil our commitment to privacy of communications, or was it in furtherance of the public interest, I think, are fair questions. I