A three-judge U.S. appeals panel heard arguments May 5 in a case that could decide whether colleges, universities, and even some K-12 school systems must upgrade their computer networks within the next year, making it easier for police and the FBI to wiretap internet phone calls.

At issue is what one higher-education group says could total $7 billion in upgrade expenses for schools nationwide. But if the judges' demeanor in the May 5 court hearing is any indication, the outcome of the case--which pits federal government officials against civil liberties and education groups--ultimately could prove

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