The government taps phones. That is not a secret. In fact it is well known since phone taps can be used to help incriminate suspects in criminal activities, as well as keep an ear open for any possible threats. In order to perform these wire taps, the government will need the cooperation of carriers, and in return the carriers are then reimbursed for their efforts.
However it seems that the US Justice Department is not too happy with Sprint’s bill of $21 million, which they claim to have been overcharged, and in return they are now suing Sprint because of it. They claim that Sprint had secretly included the expense of financing equipment from January 2007 to July 2010, which might explain the hefty bill.
According to a statement made by Melissa Haag, US attorney, “As alleged, Sprint overbilled law enforcement agencies for carrying out court-ordered intercepts, causing a significant loss to the government’s limited resources.”
Based on a FCC ruling in 2006, it stated that while operators could charge the government for the costs of phone tapping, they are not allowed to charge for post-1995 equipment upgrades, which is what the Justice Department alleges that Sprint did.
Naturally Sprint has refuted these claims and states that their invoices comply with the law. In the meantime the departments that alleged that Sprint overcharged them includes the FBI, the DEA, the US Marshal’s Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, and the Secret Service.
The government is now seeking the return of the money that Sprint overcharged them for, and are also seeking financial penalties.