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In 1991, the FBI sponsored the Digital Telephony Proposal, which required telecommunications equipment manufacturers and service providers to make sure that their products had a built-in means whereby law enforcement officials could successfully tap into any conversation provided they obtained a warrant. This initiative was undertaken by the FBI in response to increasing fear that with the advent of digital phone lines, fiber optics, and advanced telephony in general, law enforcement might no longer be able to conduct wiretaps in the near future.

The Digital Telephony Proposal angered a large number of voters and telecommunications equipment manufacturers, who in turn put pressure on their congressmen. As a result, the proposal was never allowed to reach the House floor.